Continued from Part 4
With my new career path I thought about how to get what I felt “called” to do. I began going to as many church meetings as I could. Not being able to drive yet I pretty much just tagged along with anything my parents went to. I attended both my parents bible study as well as the high school bible study, being on the worship team I also attended both services on Sunday. I soaked it all in.
As time went on I began to lead worship in those bible studies, which were groups of about 10 – 15 people. I also began to lead some of the studies. Anyone who has done any kind of teaching knows that it forces you to learn more. Problem here, in hindsight, is that I was simply accepting what I was learning as truth with out question. I guess you could say I had “blind faith”. Why would all these adults lie to me?
During high school I had changing interests. I was involved in the school musical freshman year, I was in the chess club (briefly), but the one thing that never wavered was church and the pursuit of the knowledge of god.
I have to go back a little ways and talk about an interest that started back in middle school. I was in eighth grade English when one of my passions came to realization. I loved writing. I wrote poems, stories, tales of my life pretty much all the time. I always had a notebook with me and just wrote what came to mind. I wish I could find some of those now. As I began to do this whole god thing all of my creative juices flowed into that. But the passion of it just didn’t seem to be there. I became obsessed with making sure that the poems I wrote could be come a worship song. I suppressed writing about topics that I found interesting because they didn’t go with what god would want. Eventually I just let it go. I gave up trying. I gave up writing. I wonder where I would be if I hadn’t.
Junior year I took a class in drafting. I would design things (like a model house or a bridge) and then build them. I found this to be a pretty neat thing. There was a course that followed this in Computer Aided Drafting. Basically using the computer to do the designs. I didn’t have much experience with computers at this point (we didn’t have one at home yet…yeah I’m old and my father is a late adopter of technology). This sparked the interest that would eventually shape my career path. I found using the computer easy and interesting. People complain that computers never work the way they are supposed to, but they just do exactly as they are told (as I write this I’m realizing the parallel between my love for the computer and my investment in religion). I tend to retort with “Computers are great at making highly accurate mistakes”. Garbage in garbage out. Much like my brain until recently…
Argument from personal incredulity
Essentially this fallicy is that just because you don’t understand something it’s probably not true. For instance, say you travel back in time 1000 years, ignoring the fact you’d die pretty quick from disease, and you try to explain that the earth isn’t the center of the universe, let alone the solar system. You’d probably be called a heratic, among other things, because the people would have no idea how that would even work.
I played into this fallicy hard for a long time. For instance, I couldn’t think of any other way for people to achieve self awareness on our own. God must have made us this way! This is commonly called the God of the gaps argument, we don’t get it therefore god. I would say that science and religion were meant to work together and anything science couldn’t explain must have been god’s doing. I guess I really didn’t understand how science works, but that’s for another post.
Parable of the Sower Mark 4 1-20
This parable is about how people receive the word of god. It talks about the different ways people reject it and how one accepts it. You know, the ones on the path, the ones, in shallow soil, the ones in the thorns, and the ones that grow great crops. He then tells his close followers what he meant by the whole thing. There is something that appears to be missing and I seem to fall into this category. What about the one who hears the word receives it, produces crops, and then, I guess to go along with the parable, withered and died? Or does nearly two decades of having this as an identity lump me in with the ones that shot up quickly but then died due to lack of soil?
The Parables of the Lamp, Growing Seed, and the Mustard Seed Mark 4 21-34
Jesus goes on to talk in more parables about faith and how it is used and what it should be like. The interesting line that stands out to me is at the end. It says he spoke in parables to all the crowds be only told what they meant to his disciples. He says it’s because of a prophecy in Isaiah. Doesn’t this become a self fulfilling prophecy. If you’ve already read this and wanted to make sure you fulfilled it, knowing it would be a good start.
Jesus Calms the Storm Mark 4 35-41
So they are on the boat at night and a storm kicks up. They wake him up and he says “Quiet! Be Still!” is it possible he was yelling at the people on the boat and the storm happened to calm down at the same moment. Or maybe the storm was a bit less intense than they thought.
Why do you hate God?
I remember watching “God’s Not Dead” with my father. The entire film Kevin Sorbo’s character acted like the stereotypical atheist I had brought up in my mind. Complete jerk and dismissive of any information given to him. The protagonist though was super hard to root for. The arguments he put up for his stance that god was alive were uncompelling and weak at best. The climax of the movie is when the student gets Kevin Sorbo to admit that he’s angry at god. Even as a Christian I cringed very hard at this.
After my deconversion I’ve seen that this is something that some theologians believe. They think that we all have an built in belief in god and we all believe it’s there all the time. They think that atheists just deny that part of themselves, mainly because this god has failed to live of to their expectations. The question I would have for them is which god are we born with an innate belief of? There are literally thousands.
The point I’m trying to make by saying all of this is that, no I don’t hate god. I don’t hate god in much the same way I don’t hate unicorns, or fairies, or Santa Clause. I can’t hate something I don’t believe. Sure I’ve had some messed up stuff happen in my life. All that did was to help me see through the religion. I don’t hold some kind of grudge. I’ve found more peace in my lack of belief than I did in my belief.
Side Note: I’ve noticed a lot more readers lately (yay!) So I’m going to put it out there again that if you have any questions you’d like to see me answer on here please let me know!
Continued from Part 3
As we were settling in our new home, my step-mother’s mother had been housing some of our belongings during the transition. While mulling around the basement of her house one day I came across a guitar. I had never held a guitar before nor did I have any idea of how to play it but I knew that I needed to learn it so I could join the worship team. I asked my dad about it and he said that if I could save of up enough money to get it fixed it was mine and he would teach me. I was so excited! Mostly because it was the first time in my life that I had found something that I had an interest in that my father did too.
Over the next few months I saved every penny I could. I did extra chores, hunted in couch cushions, collected bottles and cans. And at last I had the money I needed! We brought it down to the local music store and had them fix it up. A week later I brought it home and then eagerly awaited instruction from my dad. And waited. I had purchased a couple of song books along with the repair so I opened them seeing if I could read the music. Not so much. But on the tops of the music there were musical notes with little diagrams that looked like guitar strings. I put my fingers on the appropriate dots and gave it a strum.
Music! It made a pretty noise! I continued to follow along as it was a song I was very familiar with (Hotel California by The Eagles). Before I knew it I had “played” the song…Very slowly transitioning between the chords but it was there. I was ecstatic, but it was short lived. I brought my new marvel to my father and he was just disappointed. He told me I was doing my fingering wrong and that I should have waited for him. It was a crushing blow to my spirits but I pushed on. This time waiting for his instruction.
I picked up the basics pretty quickly and soon I was to the point where I had learned everything my dad could teach. I began taking private lessons from the worship leaders at church. After much discussion with them I decide to sell my acoustic guitar and purchase an electric one. I found it much easier to play, however I wasn’t much of a lead guitarist. I could play the notes they wrote down for me but couldn’t improvise well. But I continued to work.
A few months went by and there was an announcement at the church that they would be holding open auditions for the worship team. We had grown as a church and had purchased our own building in this time. They were set to go to multiple services on Sunday morning and needed more musicians. I eagerly submitted my application (which was about 5 pages long) and marked my calendar for the day of the instrumental audition.
When the time came I was more than nervous. I had practiced my songs for weeks and knew everything like the back of my hand but just the fact that I knew I was being judged was a scary proposition. The band started and I played my heart out. Well as best I could. I felt every wrong note with a deep agony thinking that would be what cut me. I pressed forward though, knowing the song wouldn’t stop for me. We finished the two audition songs and all I got was a thank you, and was on my way.
The days that followed were pure agony. I waited by the phone and was the first to the mailbox every day. When the phone rang and someone else some how got to it before me I waited to hear my name called from across the house and was usually met with silence. The call finally did come. It was the guy in charge of the worship team asking if I’d like to join the main sanctuary team! I was elated! I thought that I might be added to the children’s wing team but never thought I’d be there!
This is where began to think, “Maybe I could do this for a job some day!”
Continued in Part 5
Just as a heads up the next few weeks of Definition Friday are going to be dealing with logical fallicies. I’ve been somewhat studying them in my spare time. There is a great resource here if your interested in reading more. I’ll spend a little time defining the fallicies and then give examples from how they’ve had an effect on my life. Anyway on with the show!
Special pleading, sometimes referred to as “moving the goalposts”, is when one puts out a specific set of rules, or premises that apply to everything inside a set and then saying that something inside that same set has a different set of rules. A good real world example of this is nepotism. A company has a set of standards that every applicant must go through in order to be hired. The company’s owner wants his son to work at the company even though he isn’t qualified. The owner tells HR to put him in the job anyway, circumventing the rule that applies to everyone.
Bringing this back around to my atheism, I never realized how much special pleading is used in defense of god. The first that comes to mind is “killing people is wrong, unless god does it. Then it’s ok because it’s his will.” I’ve heard people say that “he created us so he can destroy us.” Really? I created my son does that make it ok for me to kill him? Me thinks no. What kind of mental gymnastics did I go through to think that this was in anyway ok?
I’ve recently come across a bunch of theist vs atheist debates on the youtubes. One of the arguments that I hear time and time again is what’s know as the Kalam Cosmological Argument. In a nut shell it states that everything that has a beginning has a cause, the universe has a beginning, therefor the universe has a cause…which must be god. The first time I heard this argument I was lead to follow it. It seemed to make sense. Then I thought, well if the universe had to have a cause, and that cause was god, what caused god. It leads to an infinite regress of “well then who created that?”
Typically the defense that I hear back is where this logical fallacy comes into play. It goes something to the effect of “well god lives out of space and time so this doesn’t apply to him.” There is the special pleading. You can’t have a set of constants and then say that these constants don’t apply to something within that set.
I went to the library for the first time in a long time this weekend. While there I found the “required atheist reading” and decided to pick it up. I haven’t read a book for pleasure since probably high school. I’ve been in and out of college for the last few years so it’s not like I haven’t read, just not for leisure.
I picked up the book and it was a bit daunting. It’s really big. Like way bigger than anything I’ve read in a long time. But I was up for the challenge. I’m currently on Chapter 3 and I find myself having a hard time putting it down. I don’t read at an amazing speed but I’m doing about 40 pages a night. It’s been amazing.
I plan to do a full review once I finish the book but I very much appreciate how it is laid out so far. Definitions followed by what he is defining as the hypothesis, the arguments for (which I’ve come across previously in my own research, mainly thanks to The Atheist Experience).
I think I did start reading this once as a believer, I wonder if it would have changed my point of view then had I finished it…
Mark Chapter 3
Last Weeks Study
Jesus Heals on the Sabbath
Ok so again we see Jesus doing things just to piss off the religious leaders. I understand what is trying to be conveyed here, that it’s better to do good on a holy day than do nothing and thus changing their paradigm. However, perhaps it would have been better to change other social ideas. Maybe denounce slavery, or incest, or rape?
Crowds Follow Jesus
Another example of Jesus being mysterious. He’s got people falling down and saying “You are the son of god” and he shushes them. I still don’t understand this whole “don’t tell anyone who I am” thing. Seems like he’d be in his prime to say who he was, if that’s who he was, in order to spread the message of it’s validity. The one thing that comes to mind is that this wasn’t really his end game originally.
Jesus Accused by His Family and by Teachers of the Law
This opens with Jesus’ family wanting to go collect him because they thought he was crazy. Perhaps they were right lol. It goes on to the religious leaders accusing him of being the devil. Jesus refutes this saying that the devil couldn’t cast out demons because that would be him fighting against himself. I thought about this even when I was a believer. Wouldn’t that actually be a great tactic for the devil to do? “Look at me getting rid of all this evil! Aren’t I doing good things?” It seems that even though he’s driving out theses “evil spirits” they don’t seem to be “killed”. Can you kill a spirit? Could you prove that? Even if that were the case, killing a few pawns to further your end game seems to be worth it.
He then goes on to completely ignore his family and say that everyone there is his family. I’m pretty sure one of those commandments says to honor your mother and father, saying that everyone is your “mother” seems to be a bit disrespectful to your actual mother.