Stay Tuned for Our Halloween Special.

If you have ever read this blog you know my feelings on religion and you know that I “did time” in the church. One of the things that I would do usually for the church happened around this time of year.

Before I was “saved” I was a witch.  I practiced Wicca. A fun religion built on Welsh, Irish, British and other European pagan traditions that involves a lot of accessories and the delusion of the supernatural. Because I was a witch turned christian, I was always asked to speak out against Halloween & because I was a good little christian soldier, I always did (I now feel shame for it to be honest).

However…

I fucking loved Halloween and I still do!!

I loved the costumes, the pranks, the scary movies, and the whole idea of halloween! I know that Halloween comes from pagan roots, ALL OF OUR HOLIDAYS DO; however it isn’t satan’s night or the night where kids are sacrificed in some pagan rite. It’s a night where kids do more cardio than they do all year and get more candy than their parents know what to do with so they take it to the office the next day and all of their co-workers get to trick-or-treat throughout their cubicles (Adulting is awesome).

But, to keep with my old tradition of speaking out against things that occur on Halloween, I do want to go on a bit of a rant about some practices that do occur on this most awesome of nights.

Stop with this fucking Trunk or Treat bullshit! If you don’t know what this is, it is a stupid ploy to “make Halloween safe for kids” by having people come to church (sometimes a school, but usually a church) parking lots and open up their trunks and have kids just wander around the church parking lot and get candy. Of course there is also a catch at the church based ones:

 Churches are expanding on the original idea of trunk or treat by adding food, music, games, and rides. Their goal is to reach more of the community with an alternative to trick or treat. It not only has become a way to provide an alternative for children in the church but to the entire community. They have also found that it opens up opportunities to invite parents and children to other events or services going on at the church. To this end, some church groups hand out tracts or other information on the church at a Trunk-or-Treat.

Now I get it in the rural based communities where neighbors are 20 miles apart, but in my town there are suburban communities everywhere. We also have 30 churches that are in the 10 sq miles that make up our city limits (Welcome to Texas) and they all do the trunk-or-treat thing. The past 2-3 years that I have carved a jack-o-lantern, left the porch light on, signed my house up as a designated trick-or-treat house, I have gotten less than 5 trick-or-treaters in all 3 years combined. Its heartbreaking to see this tradition go away.

But, I would gladly let it die if it meant that a swift death would come to the other tradition that the church has on Halloween.

Every year almost every church puts on a spectacle called a “Hell House“.  They are like haunted houses you see pop-up around Halloween, but based on “sin” and “hell”.  They show melodramatic scenes of teen drug use, domestic violence, suicide, abortion, and homosexuality (amongst other evangelical christian issues). Now some of these things are serious topics, but the hyperbole comes in because the scenes are all caused by demonic influence. Yep, satan and his minion caused the depression that led that (always female actress) teen to suicide. Satan caused that girl (it’s usually always the same actress as the suicide teen) to go out to that party and get raped (notice there wasn’t any demonic influence over the guys that did the actual rape), and abortion is always caused by the devil; however at the end of the trip through this christian psychological shit-show, Jesus (or sometimes an angel if no one in the church looks like Jesus) pops in like a superhero and saves the day by leading the tour group out of hell and into heaven; however sometimes there’s a twist and not everyone gets in and you end up back in hell.

Here take a look, there was actually a documentary done about these a few years back:

 

In these attractions, you are basically subjected to psychological torture (Almost like Alex in “A Clockwork Orange”). You are made to see horrific images played out with sounds and lights (sometimes smells) to give a further discomforting augmentation to a distorted reality  and then given an out: Salvation through Jesus. At the end of these you are given a chance to pray with members of the church and be “saved” (and also join the church mailing list of course). Like the kid in the video, I would have given them the finger as well.

Truth of the matter is, I have only been through one Hell House (and that was enough). It was more horrific, and unsettling than any actual haunted house that I have been to. Mind you,  I have been to a haunted house as a kid/teen where the group was chased by a dude with a chainsaw. AN ACTUAL FUCKING CHAINSAW (sans the chain on the blade of course) and that was less horrifying and damaging than the 1 hell house that I visited in my 20s as a “saved christian”.  Honestly, I laughed at the chainsaw guy. I loved every minute of the normal haunted house. Because they are there for entertainment. Hell Houses are there to subject you to a psychological torment, distort your thinking, and then convert you you at the end. Basically, you are herded like cattle through this “morality play” and processed at the end.

And of course it’s all for your own good.

Richard Dawkins, noted atheist, has condemned Hell Houses, saying that using fear to convert children is child abuse, and that the children only leave with nightmares and soiled underpants.

My largest problem is that these are aimed at kids. They will usually let children as young as 12 into these psychological slaughterhouses and that is one of the most frightening things I find about them. That and the number of them. There is one, or more, in every town and usually the ticket prices are cheap. So, instead of going to an actual haunted house a few towns over or in the nearest metropolitan city, kids will usually end up at these. Plus, they are ran by a church.

Nothing could possibly be that scary to the kids at a church, right?

classroom-shooting

Nope. Go on and take the kids, be sure to hit the Trunk-Or-Treat afterwards.

 

Happy Halloween.

 

Advertisements

What To Do When You Are Branded.

It’s a widely known fact that I am an asshole.

Hell, I admit to it most of the time and almost wear it as a badge of honor. I do so because it means that people see me as someone who doesn’t take any bullshit and doesn’t get pushed about by this or that seem to fucking care about anything but myself. When you look at it psychologically, it means that I know how to set firm boundaries, be assertive, and I am not afraid to use the word “no”.

Now, here’s my lamentation.

It’s not always easy being an asshole. Sometimes it’s damn well heartbreaking. Because you have to make the choice between helping someone else, or caring for yourself or to continue caring for a person at the same level of quality that you already are or by helping this person it will add to your existing burden and it comes back to the quality of care for others or time to care for yourself issue. You want to do all of these things; however you know that taking on that extra burden just isn’t something you can do. So, you have to own up to being human, set a boundary and then stick to it. If you have enough on your plate and someone else comes along asking for XYZ. You have to just tell them you can’t help them, say “No” and walk away.  Just know, if you do this then you earn your asshole badge and will be forever branded as such.

A lot of people will say “God never puts more on you than you can bear” (Which is a misquote and a misuse of 1 Corinthians 10:13, that phrase is nowhere in the bible). Yeah, he does. That’s why people have fucking migraines, mental illness and nervous breakdowns. That’s why I had a nice church lady in one of my IOPs because she was so damn exhausted and stressed out, yet co-dependant, from “The Lord’s Burden” on her that she was literally being driven out of her fucking mind and had to learn to:

  1. Set Firm Boundaries
  2. Be Assertive
  3. Not be afraid to use the word “No” and walk away.

If g-d is so fucking awesome with his workload management, then why doesn’t he come down and pitch in every once in a fucking while?

Another more logical way to look at things is this:

“Givers have to set limits because takers rarely do.”

– Henry Ford

You have to set your own limit and you have to decide what you can bear. It’s up to you and not some imaginary friend that thinks they know global logistics.

But, I am digressing.

The point I am trying to make is that you have the right to say “No” and to not be cursed for it; however it’s going to happen anyway. If someone needs help, then point them in another direction that they can find it; however you are booked. These are the boundaries that I set, and that I use. People may not like it, I generally do not like it, but I am not a superhero and I can’t save everyone. I think that realization and my ability to set and hold onto my boundaries are actually my superpower, and sometimes I feel like the world hates me for it.

Then again, I’m an asshole.

There’s One in Every Group.

Everyone wants to be different. Everyone wants to be special. For the most part, you are unique; however the laws of probabilities and averages weigh in and there is probably someone else out there that is just like you. Now, I am not saying that you have an evil twin with an eye patch; however there is probably someone that is like minded, dresses almost the same, likes the same food, and may even appear almost the same (sans the eye patch).

This is also true of ideologies and beliefs within religions, which are themselves ideologies and beliefs. Here in the U.S. we hear a lot about Christians and the “war on religion”.  Recently we had a local pastor in the small town of Samson Park, TX make a few headlines as he gave a sermon after the Orlando shootings about the “50 sodomites” and how “they’re the scum of the earth, and the earth is a little bit better place now.”. This Arizona native came to Texas just a little over a year ago and after his church was only open for that 1st year, he managed to make it on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Active Hate Group list.

This local asshat aside, I want to talk about another group that has drawn my attention today. A group that I usually try to stick up for because they are demonized in the western media and they tend to keep to themselves when it comes to indoctrination and evangelism. I am speaking about Muslims.

Now before you start going into the “Another Stupid  American”, “He’s a Texan Republican” (Which I am not, FYI), or the “Dude, you are going to get bombed” spiel, let me be clear. When I say that I am an atheist, I mean just that. Theist meaning  the belief in the existence of a god or gods with the prefix “a” meaning not or without ( Examples: asymmetrical,. asymptomatic, apolitical). So, I am not “anti-Christian”, I think all of them are non-sense.  You may hear me talk about Christianity a lot but that’s because I live in a north Texas town that is approximately 9 square miles in size, has a population of roughly over 10K, and has 20 churches  in it (of which the majority of are either Baptist or Evangelical). So, that particular belief system is on my radar, a lot.

What has made me take a look at the Muslim community? A guy named Ahmed Muhammad Ahmed el-Tayeb. He is the Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar, which is a very high position in Sunni Islam. He is also a well educated man and holds a Phd in Islamic philosophy from the Paris-Sorbonne University, and has been president of Al-Azhar University since 2003. OK, so he is well educated in his religion and it’s philosophies, but I am sure he took a few other courses.

He took to the airwaves, on his nightly TV show, and started telling the viewing audience:

…that atheists developed their opinions in the 18th century with some degree of politeness and respect toward those who believe in God but contemporary atheists, particularly after the events of September 11, have declared war against all religions, especially Islam.

Wait…What?

First, yes atheism historically did  formally start during the early 18th century and we were polite about it because of all of the persecution of heretics going on at the time. The rise of toleration and enlightenment only started because people were sick of the Spanish inquisition, the witch trials, the civil wars of England, Scotland and the Netherlands that had previously occurred. People were sick of all of the bullshit that had been done and that was being done by the church. It wasn’t until the mid to late 1700’s that tolerance of  other religions and beliefs was finally accepted in Europe, and atheism would be even tolerated to any degree. So yeah, we were kind of polite because we were afraid of that whole death or imprisonment thing. Oh, and post 9/11 it wasn’t just atheists that didn’t like Muslims. It was pretty much every bigoted asshole on the planet. Some atheist, some theist, and all misguided; however I thank you for proving my point.

No matter what the religious view, there’s always “one of those guys”.  Even the religion of Islam is declaring that there is a war on religion; however the muslims are stepping up the game:

Trending on Arabic #Twitter is this hashtag #نطالب_بقتل_الملحدين which translates to “We demand the killing of the Atheists”. scary times.

I tried translating this, and I got “We demand the transfer of atheists”; however when you isolate بقتل and translate that, it means killing. Now, some people are stating that this is just in regards to Atheists in Saudi Arabia and/or the Middle East, but it really isn’t clarifying that. The hashtag doesn’t say “We demand the killing of the Atheists here in the Middle East. Everywhere else is cool”. Also, it’s not just the middle east and it’s not just the religion of Islam. In 2015 2 men were murdered for speaking out against religion and superstition and the violence associated with it in India. Govind Pansare and his wife were attacked and he later died from his injuries, M. M. Kalburgi was shot dead at his home, a third man, K. S. Bhagawan was only sent a threatening letter, the leader of the militant Hindu organization that allegedly killed the other two men was caught and arrested.

Back to our friend The Sheik:

 He added that one of the major causes of the spread of irreligiosity and atheism in the Islamic world is that some Muslim youth do not have the support for firm thinking and belief and cannot assess what they hear, especially since those who spread atheism spread their ideas with simple and comprehensible explanations for the youth.

I searched Google to get a definition of “firm thinking” and I had to laugh at this:

Did you mean:
free thinking definition
formal thinking definition

I did find a site called firmthinking.com which is a “strategy and marketing consulting firm” but I don’t think that is what the sheik is talking about; however I do think that he means strategic thinking.

Strategic thinking is defined as a mental or thinking process applied by an individual in the context of achieving success in a game or other endeavor.

Basically, I read this as: “Our kids need us to think for them, because if they think for themselves, then they won’t buy into our religious beliefs because the atheists are talking clearly and rationally.”.  But he goes on to say:

“Experts in psychology and large financial institutions support these ideas and the danger of these institutions is that their ideas can be considered as the weapons of the West,” he stressed.
OK, there it is. It boils down to atheism (in the form of psychology and money?) being linked to “The West”. I am sure when he says “The West” he doesn’t mean Canada or Brazil. Because all atheist are American. He goes on to blame international humanitarian groups for abusing religious freedom and blaming most of Europe for recognizing LGBT rights that “are hated and uncomfortable in the Islamic world.”  He then pushes for the idea to have religious classes taught in all of their schools and universities (and I don’t think he means as an elective) to “to ensure the culture of society against deviant thoughts”.
And we all know my thoughts on deviants.
Here’s my point, I don’t care what book you are claiming is “infallible truth” or what imaginary friend you talk to at night or 5 times a day while bowing and stretching. Every religion has a bunch of nutjobs in them. The guy 12 miles away in a small ass Baptist Church or the Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar several thousand miles away are both the same guy.  They are both misguided by the ideology and dogma that comes from a book that was written thousands of years ago and has caused pain and bloodshed for thousands of years since.
And they are both afraid.
They are afraid of their culture, their religion, the meme that has lasted thousands of years dying. So, they are both acting out. One is throwing a tantrum and saying stupid hateful shit and trying to get his 15 minutes and attract the dregs to fill the pews. The other is hoping that his position and power will lead people to further his ideology of his religion and he is also saying stupid things and acting out. That’s what all of these things are: tantrums.
The world is changing and some people don’t want to change with it. So, they will become assholes, bigots and just full of hate and try to ruin it for everyone else. In the unfortunate case of these two, one has a Youtube channel, and the other has a national TV show. Then someone has a twitter hashtag that is trending, but not in a great way.
Regardless of what you believe, or don’t believe, can we just try not to kill each other?
Please?

Regarding a Moment When I Was With the Church.

I want to write about something that I don’t like to talk about. Something that I went through with the church that bugs me to this day. I feel that it is one of the things that I look back on and see that there wasn’t anything ever “wrong” with me and that the evangelical church (and religion in general )is nothing less than predatory.

A little after I was first saved, I went through something called “Deliverance Counseling or Deliverance Therapy” due to my dealings with the occult. A man named Charles Carrin was a guest speaker at our church and had told us that demons could inhabit, influence and keep us in bondage. Mind you this was NOT POSSESSION, that was apparently a Catholic thing. This was demonic oppression,you were suffering demonic influence and bondage, and you had to be delivered from it by the Holy Spirit. Charles told us about a “demonic spirit” that was associated with the occult that was a serpent that wound it’s way around the spine and rested its head in your brain. He advised that’s where the idea of Chakras and the Third Eye came from. He was referring to the Kundalini :

Kundalini – From a Sanskrit term meaning “coil” or “spiral,” spiritual and psychical energy that may be aroused systematically by techniques of yoga and which can be channelled throughout the chakras from the base of the spine to the crown of the head.

Needless to say, since I had been involved with witchcraft and I was ready and willing to be indoctrinated, I thought I had a demonic snake wrapped around my spine and in my brain (Yeah, go ahead and laugh; I would, too). So, my friends, newly found church family and this guy named Charles gather around me as I layed on the floor. While people prayed, they also laid hands on me, and some held down my legs and arms, Charles went to work. He anointed me with oil, he started praying in Jesus name and…

I got nothing.

I held my eyes closed, I waited and then nothing was happening. I thought that maybe I wasn’t trying hard enough, maybe I wasn’t worthy of delivering. Then I opened my eyes and I was surrounded by people with their hands on me. I then had something! A strong desire to get the hell off the floor and leave; however I was being held down. Not by the holy spirit, or anything supernatural, but by actual people. Charles kept praying and I was staying put. I eventually started to get frustrated, and finally my anxiety kicked in and I contemplated fighting my way out. About that time everything was over and done with and I was asked how I felt and what I was feeling during the session. I told everyone that I was anxious and was about to start fighting my way out of being held down on the floor.

Of course this was interpreted as demons fighting back and that satan had a tight grip on me and I needed more Jesus instead of someone having a panic attack due to being surrounded and held down on the ground. Of course I can’t really say anything because I agreed that I was infested with demons. Demons were just crawling out of my ass and only more dogma and indoctrination (aka: Jesus) could help me.

I still have those demons. Except know I call them by their real names of Bipolar Disorder, General Anxiety Disorder and OCD and I exercise them with medication and actual therapy.

The funny thing is, this didn’t just happen once. Nope.

About a year or so later I went to a different preacher, on referral of my pastor at the time, and sought further deliverance therapy. I went into this man’s home and sat in a chair in his living room. My friend Tim ( the pastor’s son) went with me for support. This new deliverer prayed and prayed. Again, I waited for something to happen. Finally, something did happen! My throat went dry from sitting in a chair and praying for half an hour and I started to clear my throat and cough. Delivery Guy took this as a sign from above that I was “coughing up evil spirits”. So, he began to pray louder and more vigorously IN THE NAME OF JESUS! I kept coughing because: A) It was helping my throat & B) It was hurrying up this “deliverance”.  Once I had coughed up enough “evil”, I was given a clear bill of spiritual health and Tim and I hit the road. I chalked up the experience to the pastor not having enough faith or ability to get the job done.

It would be a few years before I finally called bullshit on all of this and “took the scales off my eyes”.

The reason that I hate talking about this part of my time in the church is because I feel that these points is where I really got taken advantage of. This is where I was made to feel like I was broken and unworthy and I needed a deity, a g-d, a higher power to “fix me”.  This is where I feel that the indoctrination of the church really broke in and took hold and stole my mind. This is the point of time in the church where I feel fucking violated. Because I KNEW that NOTHING WAS HAPPENING TO ME and I still bought into the bullshit and even blamed myself for no magical or supernatural occurrence happening to me. It was my fault that g-d didn’t show up and do something. I wasn’t faithful enough, I wasn’t good enough. When the fact was and is that there is no god to show up. I am worthy & good enough for anything and everything.

I found out later, as an atheist, that deliverance therapy actually has a name and is/was a commonly used practice in christian churches.

Theophostic ministry: Theophostic from two Greek words, theos for God and phos for light.

This article was written in 2001 (approximately the time that I received my “therapy”) and here are some excerpts:

…Ed Smith, founder of Theophostic Ministries (http://www.theophostic.com), based in Campbellsville, Kentucky. More than 15,000 people have taken his basic Theophostic training, and he estimates that more than 300,000 Christians have received some type of ministry using Theophostic. The approach is being used in 40 countries, and manuals are being translated into four languages.

So, this was kind of a big thing back in and around the time that this occurred to me. Whether or not either pastor that “delivered” me used this technique is unknown; however it appears not everyone was on board with this.

Some critics fault Theophostic for its approach to the demonic. Smith teaches that demons, sometimes numbering in the hundreds, may inhabit and influence even a Christian’s mind. These demons often work to keep people enslaved to what Smith calls the “lie-based thinking” causing their pain. He teaches that these demons have to be expelled for a client to see full relief.

While some evangelical theologians believe that Christians can fall under the strong influence of demons, few would agree with Smith that hundreds of demons can inhabit a believer.

The problem with this is that some people believe that this type of “therapy” can help cure everything from tennis elbow to homosexuality (which doesn’t need a cure, because it isn’t a disease!). Some sites like this one even promote “deliverance ministry” over having you kids take medication for their issues or ailments and they will even do it via webcam!

Children’s Deliverance

Do you see behaviors in your children that concern or frighten you? Have they been victimized by abuse ? Do you see patterns that are present in the family tree? Do they doctors want to prescribe medications and you are uncomfortable with that option? Deep down, as a parent, you may sense that the problems are spiritual and not medical in nature. As unfair as it sounds, children can be tormented and oppressed by demonic spirits just like adults.

So… What are the requisites for needing deliverance?

…we believe every believer should go through deliverance ministry to get set free from demonic strongholds!…

What are some indicators or evidences of potential strongholds being present?

  • Have you had repeated prayer, ministry and/or counsel for one or more issues in your life and have had limited and short-term freedom at best?
  • Have you been crying out to God for change in a certain area of your life?
  • Are there behaviors that you cannot control?
  • Have you tried medications/alternative therapies without success?

People can have strongholds of pride, fear/anxiety, depression,  anger,  lust, pornography and more.

OK, first ALL CHRISTIANS ask for repeated prayer for at least one thing. Every churchgoer has that one thing that they wish that they didn’t do and it’s usually an addiction like cigarettes or porn. Also , ALL CHRISTIANS cry out to g-d for something. More money, not to be single, to lose weight, or so on. You never are going to see a churchgoer tell their dear and fluffy lord “No Thanks, I am all good here!”. They always will be asking for or wanting something. If you have issues with the bottom two you need to keep working at them with an actual therapist/psychiatrist. This shit is not going to get you help, especially for $120 per hour.

Yeah, Jesus ain’t cheap.

I have wanted to share this for awhile now and it feels good to get this out of my head. It’s a shame of mine that I have carried around for far too long. It makes me angry when I think about it and I think now that I feel a little restored by putting this out there.  I know now that I am the one that chooses my own path and I am my own responsibility. I only have this life to live and that I have to make it a good one.

Be wise and be kind, always.

 

NOTE: IF you are a Christian, and you just read this for a hoot, please stay away from this stuff and find an actual doctor. Pray about which actual doctor that g-d would want you to find, but beware of these types of folks. Chalk them up as false prophets in it for profits.

 

 

 

 

 

I have a theory (Updated because I didn’t like a few things).

A buddy of mine suggested a NatGeo series to me called “The Story of God” awhile back. When he first said it, I just looked at him weird. Then he told me that it wasn’t a “religious” type show that it was culturally interesting and it was also hosted by Morgan Freeman.

He should have lead with the Morgan Freeman part.

So, I have finally sat down and watched it and it is actually a good series. It does dive into multiple cultures and you learn quite a few things about these cultures from around the world; however there was one episode that I had to rewind parts of and yell at. In the episode “Why Does Evil Exist?” Morgan travels to meet an evolutionary psychologist named Jesse Bering. Jesse believes that we are psychologically programmed to believe in a god. He demonstrates this by showing an experiment with kids. He shows them a simple game. Stand behind the line with your back to the target & toss the ball over your shoulder. The person with the most points gets an awesome prize! Each kid is brought in individually and left in the room alone (except that there’s a hidden camera) to play the game. Pretty much every kid is a sneaky little shit and cheats. So, he does this again with a 2nd group of kids, but with one exception. He tells them that there is an invisible princess in the room and she will be watching them play the game. The 2nd group plays by the rules. A few kids even search for the invisible princess. So, obviously that means that we are all wired to believe in a g-d, right?

Hang on a sec.

In the episode “Who is God” Neuroscientist Dr.Andy Newberg (who is conducting research in what he is calling Neurotheology) points out that he has scanned an atheist’s brain whom he asked to meditate on g-d just like he did Morgan Freeman and other subjects and the frontal lobe that activated during their meditation did not light up for the atheist. So, maybe we are not wired to believe in a divine imaginary friend after all and what Jesse showed in his experiment was nothing more than indoctrination at work; however that lead me to the question: “Why does indoctrination work?”

So, maybe Jesse is onto something after all.

He wrote a book called “The God Instinct” and one review site quoted this out of chapter two:

“Many people don’t believe in God, yet they still ask themselves about the purpose of life and can’t easily shake their curiosity about this seemingly grand and obscure mystery. Even though we know our biological facts … the question of why we’re here still occasionally rises up in our thoughts like a case of hives – and it’s an itchy rash that science just can’t seem to scratch.” (Ch. 2)

He is correct, as an atheist I have asked myself the purpose of life; however I know the answer (my answer anyway). To me, the purpose of life it to try and enjoy your time here. That’s it. I don’t have some genetic or psychological disposition that makes me wonder why I am here. I am here. That’s all that matters. The goal is to enjoy being here while I am here (and try not to be a dick while doing it).

So I searched around a bit for more of this guys work and finally found this. It’s an article he wrote for The Guardian and he goes further into explaining “The God Instinct”.

In general, recent findings in the cognitive sciences cast considerable doubt on the everyday atheist’s assumption that religion can be explained by a simple “wish fulfilment” theory – that we believe because we wish it to be true.

Both Ludwig Feuerbach and Sigmund Freud had a lot to contribute to this original theory of “wish fulfilment”, and I can understand that their work and hypotheses are dated; however I stand by the ideology that religion and the concept of g-d(s) are man made. Jesse goes on to describe “The Theory of Mind” which, in my opinion, backs up my ideology.

Theory of Mind is the branch of cognitive science that investigates how we ascribe mental states to other persons and how we use the states to explain and predict the actions of those other persons. More accurately, it is the branch that investigates mindreading or mentalizing or mentalistic abilities.

He speaks about how the Theory of Mind is theoretical ( Really?) and that our species has used it to fill in the gaps (ie. god of the gaps) for everything from natural disasters to childbirth by giving these events minds as well and attempting to try and figure out what they were thinking or what they wanted. Again, we created these ghosts, goblins and gods, not the other way around.

Theory of mind became the warped lens through which we perceived the natural world. Through this very human cognitive prism, our species was doomed to experience certain unshakable cognitive illusions – including feeling as though there are unseen moral forces that are concerned about us as individuals. Much like optical illusions, we can, through knowledge, accept that what we perceive does not reflect reality.

So, basically, like the illusion that Freud was talking about and the fact that we can stop believing in the illusion through knowledge.  What I gather at this point from what Jesse Bering is working on is that humans have developed an evolutionary trait to assign “minds” to non-intelligent things. Even in jest we do it. (“Better pray to the coffee gods that I have enough of my morning blend this morning”.) However, I think that the bigger picture here is that this shows why indoctrination still works, especially in children. The human race is obviously smarter than it was 2000 years ago; however we still cling to the illusion that there are imaginary father figures, dragons, 6-armed blue women, and various other super friends that are looking out for us and will save us.

Why?

Memetics is why. Religion is basically  like a man-made virus that evolves to fit with a specific host. It survives through a successfully transmission.

Memetics is also notable for sidestepping the traditional concern with the truth of ideas and beliefs. Instead, it is interested in their success.

So, with meme’s in cultural practises like religion, it doesn’t matter if it’s true. The idea or belief will get passed from one mind to the next until that culture stops passing it on through belief and tradition or until minds start to resist and reject the meme.

So, I can see where this “God Instinct” theory is still relevant; however it is just showcasing the dangers of indoctrination (Especially the indoctrination of small children). Belief is taught, not pre-programmed. You don’t come out of the womb thinking or knowing that there are spirits that raise the sun & moon or that Santa is making a list and checking it twice. You are taught these things, whether they are true or not.

Yeah, I am an atheist and I do not believe in a god or gods nor do I think religion is good for the world. So, maybe I am biased; however moreover than coming from the point of view of an atheist, I look at these things as a skeptic. I believe that is a better way to view things, as I discussed earlier that disbelief is always the default logical position when looking at any proposition.  I think that Jesse’s theory showcases that we as a species can buy into some irrational propositions, especially if we are taught them as children through our culture.

I’ll leave you with this TED Talk. I think it wraps up things better than would be able to.

 

 

Book Plugs, Lies and a Sandwich.

OK, I said in my last post that I found a site that pissed me off because of the bullshit factor that is possessed. I was going to include excerpts from that site in the last post, but there was so much material that I decided to dedicate an entire rant blog about it, because of the crap that is on that site.

The #1 thing that can piss me off in 0.1 seconds: mis-information.

First, the site is called Living Waters.com and the page was called:

“New Breed of Atheists Bad for America”  (Thanks Hulk)

Let’s start with the first line of the page.

“Atheist: someone who believes that nothing made everything.”

Not quite, but I see where you are going with this.

First, we don’t know what existed before the big bang. We simply do not know. However, to say that it was “nothing” is illogical to me. Nothing is just that, NO THING. So there was obviously something around, something volatile I would guess, and then BANG and the chaos that would go on for billions of years to form our universe began. This is stuff that scientists are studying and have been studying for centuries and in that centuries of data, there hasn’t been a shred of evidence of a g-d or of any intelligent design.

The site then starts plugging books by an author named Ray Comfort, who I am not familiar with; however I can tell you he doesn’t like atheists or Richard Dawkins. He goes on about how he (Comfort) will/has uncovered Atheist “core beliefs” and something about his Ford truck. He built a website to combat atheism www.PullThePlugOnAthiesm.com (that just leads you back to Liveing Water’s home page) that will show you how major colleges and Animal Planet are turning you children into g-dless atheists and then gives this gem:

Men like Richard Dawkins tell kids that they are nothing but apes…

**sigh**

We, along with the Chimpanzee and the Bonobo, SHARE a common genetic ancestor that lived approximately 6 million years ago. Basically, we are part of the African Ape family, that are part of the Great Ape family. We are only 2 genomes apart from Chimps. That’s how we got opposable thumbs people.

 

Then there were these little rage nuggets:

They want to take from Americans the unique liberty that we have in this nation to worship God

No we just don’t want our tax dollars used to pay for christian monuments, religious stickers on government vehicles , and we want the “unique liberty” of the separation of church and state to keep indoctrination out of our schools and government. That’s all.

They hate Christmas

I fucking LOVE Xmas! The lights, the food, THE PRESENTS! I believe we know my feelings about Easter and I will be attending Passover with my Jewish friend and his family in a couple of weeks. I don’t hate Xmas, I love Xmas you dick wagon.

they protest nativity scenes and public prayer

If the Nativity Scene is paid for by my tax dollars or on land that was purchased or is maintained by my tax dollars, then yeah I am going to bitch about it. Again, separation of Church & State.

The only public prayer that draws fire is, again, prayer at government events or publicly funded schools. Government issues are not as tricky as Public Schools. If students, without coercion or assistance from faculty or staff,  want to hold a religious meeting or do a public prayer then the students are exercising their 1st amendment rights. IF THE SCHOOL is promoting prayer or a religious event, then that’s an issue.

Also, didn’t Jesus say this in Matthew 6:5-6

5“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. 6But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

So, isn’t public prayer just grandstanding as far as Jesus and g-d are concerned? If you really want/need to pray, even the bible says do it behind closed doors.

But, back to this guy:

they go to court to stop the Gideons from giving Bibles out in schools, and they want to remove ‘Under God’ from the Pledge and ‘In God we Trust’ from our money. They even want to change AD/BC. Back in 1963 (A.D.), it took only one atheist to take prayer and Bible-reading out of our schools

Again, this all goes back to the 1st amendment, mainly the Establishment Clause ( the Establishment Clause inherently prohibits the government from preferring any one religion over another) and the fact that we as a people are starting to acknowledge that there are other people in America THAT ARE NOT CHRISTIAN. So, in 1954 & 1956 during The Cold War when they added “under g-d” and “In g-d We Trust” to appear different from communism (which promoted statewide Atheism). The US Government wasn’t thinking about religious freedom, it was running a propaganda campaign against the reds! That’s why America’s religious fascination exploded during that time and stayed on with the baby-boomers. It was American to go to church, only commies stayed home on Sunday. So, yes, I think we need to go back to a more secular way than we have now and more like we did before The Cold War. Keep all the g-ds in the temples and out of the schools and government. Freedom of religion is also Freedom FROM religion.

This is the one that made me about shit in rage.

Statistics show that ninety percent of Americans believe in God’s existence

Oh, wrong answer.

When asked if they believe in “God or a universal spirit” in the Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study, 89% of U.S. adults say yes – down from 92% from the previous RLS in 2007. Nearly one-in-ten (9%) now say they don’t believe in God, up from 5% in 2007.

The changes have been even more substantial when it comes to certainty of belief in God: 63% of Americans are absolutely certain that God exists, down 8 percentage points from 2007, when 71% said this.

These shifts have been especially sharp among the growing share of Americans who do not identify with any religious group (and call themselves atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular”). While 22% of these religious “nones” said that they did not believe in God in 2007, that figure has risen to 33% in 2014.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/11/04/americans-faith-in-god-may-be-eroding/

89% of Americans believe in “God or a universal spirit”, that doesn’t mean that they believe in the Christian g-d.

And the statistics that you took that number from, detail that belief in some form of g-d is down 11% and declining. The NYTimes actually did an article last year that (and I hate this term) millennials are the least religious generation ever.

So, it looks like that 90% is more like 63% and shrinking.

 

Now, I do not like to go on the offensive like this, but after the whole “professing” thing and then this. I just get frustrated with this pissed. Because I have been like Ray Comfort, I have been like the author of this site, I have said what these guys have said & done what these guys have done. I have walked that path and it just frustrates me to be on the opposite end of indoctrination like this.

Anyway, that’s my rant. I am going to make a sandwich.

 

No seriously, I am hungry.

 

 

 

WWJD? About Labels?

A growing trend that is occurring in the Atheist community is being labeled a “Professing Atheist”.  The thing is, people that do this may not know it’s offensive.

Now, if you are an atheist, and you are called this, don’t just start yelling or beating the person for calling you a liar. Again, they may not know that they are doing something wrong, and you may not even know why it’s wrong.

I picked up on it because of this video (his entire series is pretty good):

 

As Matt explains, this label stems from Psalms 14

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

And Romans 1

18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

Basically, they are saying we really do believe in g-d. We are apparently just being dicks about it and are just saying that we don’t or The Devil has us under his spell or… some other supernatural spiritual reason.

(Also, the part about challenging the use of the word “know” is pure genius!)

After watching this video I started wondering if this really was a thing. All of my friends are either like minded, or know better than to open that can of worms with me. So, I don’t get a lot of debate thrown my way.

So…

TO THE INTERNET!

After a Google search of “Professing Atheist” I came across a few sites, one that I may have to even post separately about because it was so full of shit, that show that this is a growing issue in the Atheist community.

It is a way of delegitimizing them. A self-professed priest for example would mean that only that person recognizes his position and that everyone else thinks he is crazy.

http://www.dangeroustalk.net/?p=2729

This makes sense to me. “Oh he ‘professes’ to be an Atheist” almost sounds like being called a poser or charlatan. It is demoralizing and diminishing.

Some Christians maintain that there are no atheists. They believe, of course, that some people profess to be atheists. But according to them these people suffer from a form of self-delusion. The doubters insist that in their heart of hearts people who profess not to believe in God really do.

http://infidels.org/library/modern/michael_martin/no_atheists.html

Well, that kind of backs up what the video was saying, but do Christians actually say that?

Professing Atheist Delivers Invocation at Michigan City Hall Meeting
http://christiannews.net/2015/12/30/professing-atheist-delivers-invocation-at-michigan-city-hall-meeting/

Huh…well I guess they do.

While atheism is the ultimate intellectual suicide…When he professed atheism it gave me the opportunity to humbly cite my atheist credentials. I said, “I wrote a book called God Doesn’t Believe in Atheists: Proof the Atheist Doesn’t Exist.”

http://christiananswers.net/evangelism/beliefs/atheism.html

OK, OK, whoa… I get it they do say it. A lot apparently. It’s their new spiel; however like Matt says in the video, by saying that we are “professing” they are adopting a burden of proof. The burden of proof is that they can read your/our/my mind. I know what I believe. I believe that there are no g-ds. That something did come from nothing and that the universe is one vast beautiful chaotic thing that no one is in control of. That is what I believe. The person labeling me as the “professing atheist” now has to prove they can read my mind. That they have communication with a higher power that can give them information that will allow them to know me better than I know myself. When they fail, that means they are wrong. That their g-d didn’t give them correct information (which means their g-d is not perfect), they interpreted the information wrong, or that their g-d doesn’t exist.

Maybe people should just not use labels. Maybe that should be a thing that people look into?