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Author Topic:   Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists
Posts: 4312
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 2.5

Message 3 of 7 (863621)
09-28-2019 6:20 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Phat
09-24-2019 6:12 PM

I have that book, though I have only read his personal history in the first chapters.

I personally became an atheist over half a century ago. A year or so after having been baptized around age 11 in a Protestant church (the only denominational denotation I've ever been able to find was just some independent mainstream Protestant church whose property has been absorbed by the neighboring junior college), I decided that I needed to get serious about this religion stuff and, since I assumed that we are supposed to believe in what the Bible says, I started reading the Bible, from the beginning. I couldn't even make it all the way through Genesis. I quickly realized that I simply could not believe what I was reading. And since I couldn't believe what I was supposed to, the only course of action was to simply leave. From what I've heard since then, that was one of the smoothest transitions out of Christianity.

From that point, I then learned about the history of Christianity and its many atrocities. Then around 1970 the Jesus Freak Movement arrived, through which I learned up close about fundamentalist beliefs. Needless to say, I really could not believe that stuff. Then yet another decade later, in 1981, I encountered "creation science" and very quickly learned what a complete deceptive crock that is. And all my encounters with creationists over the subsequent nearly-four decades only serve to reinforce and completely vindicate my very negative opinion of creationists and their obviously and blatantly false theology. Now the frosting on the cake is the decades-long push to institute Christian Sharia Law.

I've known about Dan Barker since the 1980's. One day on the way home from work around 1983, I was tuning through the FM band and stumbled upon Atheists United from Santa Monica. They had a weekly 15-minute radio program on KPFK at the time. A number of their broadcasts were of presentations by their monthly speakers.

One month, their guest speaker was Dan Barker. As you will recall from his autobiographical chapters, he underwent his deconversion in the Los Angeles area at a time when Atheists United was active. Yet he had no idea that they even existed and instead had to move over 2000 miles across the country before he could find anybody of like mind. At that point in his presentation he cried out to the audience: "Where were you guys when I needed you?" The Internet has changed the situation a lot, but back in those days you could be next door to the resource that you needed and never know it.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Phat, posted 09-24-2019 6:12 PM Phat has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by Phat, posted 09-28-2019 8:36 AM dwise1 has responded

Posts: 4312
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 2.5

Message 6 of 7 (863818)
09-30-2019 10:25 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Phat
09-28-2019 8:36 AM

Re: My 2 cents
Not much time, so here's a first pass.

While I could explain away your situation by charging you with never even making it through Genesis...(Hint: Jesus is the best part of the Bible) I can't say the same for Barker.

Yes, I have very often admitted that, while I made the right decision, it was for the wrong reasons. My decision that I must leave may not have been maximally informed (ie, requiring complete knowledge of all things biblical and theological), but it was sufficient to make that decision, the right decision. That is why the first warning I would give to every Bible-believing parent is that they must never leave their kids alone with a Bible. If I had gone to an adult in the congregation to discuss this stuff with, I may not have left (and more's the pity if that were!). But I doubt that many kids would have done that.

In a way, that experience informs my approach to that deliberate deception, "creation science". Anyone who takes "creation science" claims seriously should be driven to question their religion (which explicitly makes itself depend on the "truth" of their false claims) and end up choosing "the only other mutually-exclusive possibility, atheism" (which is how they train them to think).

Now mind you, I would welcome a growth in the numbers of people choosing atheism, but I'd prefer the ones who understand atheism and had left because they had outgrown religion.

The dreadful alternative is the "Christian atheists" created by their dysfunctional religions and so they carry with them all those negative stereotypes of atheism taught them, but now as a model to follow. For example, I have heard given as the typical Christian attitude (from both believers and non-) of what they would freely do if they were an atheist: They'd end up running naked down the middle of the street fornicating with everything in sight and axe-killing everybody (some are more modest and only aspire to being an axe-murderer) -- slightly hyperbolic, but not by much!

That is why I would concern myself with the ridiculous misconceptions that believers have about atheists. Because those ridiculous misconceptions of atheists will, when they themselves become atheists, become the templates and models for how they are supposed to conduct themselves as atheists. Basically, just as "creation science" booby-traps creationists' faith ("if my patently false claims inevitably turn out to be false, then my faith and all my religious beliefs are false and I should become a hedonistic atheist who runs down the street ..."), all these false stories of what atheism is and what atheists think or are like only serve to booby-trap the lives of those believers who later leave.

Here's an example. A local creationist activist always boasts of having been an atheist, but he's just lying.

In his own story that he has published, he was raised in a Protestant family and was a theist. When he was a young teenager with "bubbling hormones", knowing that God wouldn't let him indulge himself, he hit upon a "cunning plan (hint: Blackadder)": if you stop believing in God, then you aren't responsible for anybody and you can do whatever you want! Gee! Does that sound familiar? Kind of like “You resent moral guidelines and want to be free to live a life of sin and selfishness.”? Look familiar? Like that first "Christian assumption of reason for atheism"?

OK, he openly admits that he had made that choice just in order to "sin without guilt". IOW, he "became an atheist" just so that he could do anything he wanted, to get away with stuff. But then just because he used that Time-Life March of Man portrait (much parodied), he blames "evolution" as the cause of his atheism. Uh, no, it was the legalistic loophole offered by your religious indoctrination. And he directly credits young-earth creationism with returning him to "god", but I feel that he has yet again used a system as an excuse for him to do whatever he wants with no guilt. Anyway, over a 20-year span of time, I could never ever even once get him to advance a single young-earth claim. Even when I'd ask him directly for one.

But we haven't come to the weird part yet. Oh, yes, there's a weird part.

This creationist would avoid direct questions with a lot of nonsense. It's only been within the past few years that I've come to realize he was a typical creationist who only copies from his sources and doesn't actually understand any of it. But, as in a properly run interrogation (not that I was ever attempting that), the interrogatee inadvertently divulges some information.

This "former atheist" told me that all during the time he "was an atheist", he still believed in God and prayed to God every night, "just like all atheists do". Uh, what??? No atheist I've ever known, including myself, was ever, as atheists, like that!. IOW, just like Trump does, this idioot just admitted to me that he never actually was an atheist (who doesn't believe in God ... DUH?); all he was doing was pretending to be an atheist in order to get away with something.

But then this creationist goes around trying to claim that he knows exactly why people are atheists "because he had been one too!" No, he obviously never has been one, any more than countless creationist "former evolutionists" had ever actually studied the subject (a few, maybe, but not most). Yet he disspells every one of their actual reasons for become atheists, because that list of liies about atheists that you listed (no accusation, just pointing). He even tried to blame my being an atheist on the death of my son, even though he died 17 years ago and I became an atheist about 55 years ago, decades before he had ever been born. And that turned me into an atheist? What an idioota!

But that's all part of the problem that I'm seeing because of theists' weird ideas about atheism. As well as the senseless anti-atheist discrimination we have to put up with. That I personally had to put up with!

So, basically speaking, there has to be some kind of dialog and exchange. So far, you're not picking up and all we're getting is a wall of ignurance and hate.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Phat, posted 09-28-2019 8:36 AM Phat has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by Phat, posted 10-01-2019 6:30 AM dwise1 has not yet responded

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