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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sliding into a religion

That you have to be traumatised or in a bad phase of your life to slide into the hands of an organisation that is bad for your mental health is not true.
I have known enough people myself who had nice lifes, no trauma at all, and no empty space that needed to be filled by some faith, and they ended up in some weird religions.

So how (not why) does that work?
How do people get convinced about things that everyone else would reject?
Here a case that happens exactly like that hundrets of times per day.

  • At some point you might talk to a person that says things that may sound logical to you and fits your world fiew. And you might even disagree on some matters and the person will say things like "yes i understand what you say, but did you ever think about this...?"
  • You might have a very interesting conversation and then suddenly get an invitation "look, i have a few friends who think the same. We meet for discussions every week. If you want, you can come, too."
  • And because you found it so interesting, the person knew so much and was so friendly and understanding and seemed trustworthy, you might come for one of those meetings.
  • You will find a group of maybe 10 - 15 people and a few "newbs" that came just to look, just like you did.
  • Someone will introduce you and show or tell you some things that sound convincing.
  • You will drink / eat together.
  • You will find one or more people that seem interesting in what they say and you might talk with them a bit.
  • You will experience a groupdiscussion about a generally interesting topic.
  • You will maybe see some lists, scedules, books, signs and get explanations for those things.
  • You might meet or see the leader and talk to him or at least see a picture or a video of the leader.
  • You will maybe be invited to spend the night there (wherever that meeting is) or at a house of a nice member.
  • You will definitely be invited to come again.

  • You found the evening nice and you decide to come again.
  • So at some point you are there every week.
  • You make friends with group members.
  • You get invited to intern meetings because you are considered "worthy" (exchange "worthy" with whatever word you might find suitable)
  • You decide to take a look at that intern meeting
  • Someone explains you why it is important that things from the intern meetings stay intern. You might even have to sign something that says, you will not carry any information outside.
  • You might get something like a contract that makes you an official member.
  • You will have new discussions about topics you never thought about.
  • You will be carefully observed but you will not notice that.
  • Everyone keeps treating you nicely until you say something that doesn't fit into the "teachings / dogma".
  • Someone will explain you logically and with some pseudo-science why your opinion was wrong and the opinion of the group was correct.
  • It was logical, so you will believe it.
  • This will happen more and more often and you will not notice how these "logical" things become more and more unreasonable.
  • At some point you totally agree with all the teachings, you will accept the dogma.
  • You will not understand why some friends started to keep distance.
  • You will not understand why other friends or your family are worried.
  • You will not question a statement like "well maybe you should just break the contact with your friends. They don't wanna understand you anyway."
  • And you will think about it and then break contact with good friends, with family.
  • Maybe you will move somewhere else.
  • By now you already started paying real money into the movement you joined and it will be absolutely no problem for you.
  • You might get "enlightened", join courses, buy books.

  • There is nothing more or very few to learn for you left.
  • You get the offer to start your own disussion group or you get offered a job inside the movement.
  • You will do voluntary work for the movement.
  • You will spend much time with your new friends in your spare time.
  • You will spend about no time with all the people that are worried about you.
  • You will lose more money for uniforms, books, events, vacations, etc
  • You will be in charge of some things, that makes you feel important
  • People will now come to you and ask for explanations or help
  • You will now be the nice person, that talks to a stranger and be understanding
  • You will finally invite people to meetings
The circle is now closed

Little last statement:
What I wrote above did happen. It happened to someone who used to be my best friend, and it also happened to other people i used to know, and sadly enough it happened even to me.
I, unlike many others but also like many others, found my way out and am by now able to see all the signs. Prevent myself from getting into something again.

If you want to get out of a religion or want to help someone with it read "How to get out of a religion" on this blog.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The three questions

"What is God? Why do you believe in him? Why should anybody else believe in him?"
(Atheist Experience)

These three questions should be easy to answer for a believer. But for some reason it's not. Let's look at the standard answers:

Who / What is God?
  • God is my father in heaven.
    If God is your father in heaven, then who is your mother in heaven? And why are they in heaven and not here at your side? And what / where is heaven anyway?
  • God is love!
    So God is an emotion? In the bible he caused so much trouble, pain, and hate but he is love?
  • God is everything we can't explain and don't know!
    So a few hundred years ago, we couldn't explain what a lightning is. So was God a lightning? We didn't know how rain starts so God was the cause. Today we discovered those two things, so is God now two things less? Is he going to melt away by all the things we discover? What happens at the point we know everything and can explain everything?
  • God is our creator
    Please read about biology, physics, and chemistry

Why do you believe in God?
  • I had an experience!
    Mostly the described experiences are easily explained with a bit of knowledge on topics like "Psychology", "Medicine", "Science"
  • God answers my prayers!
    "Please let me pass that test" If you pass it was God help, if you don't you didn't study enough. Sounds logical to me.
  • I saw God / I can feel God!
    Sorry man, you are delusional. If you would say "I saw the flying spaghetti monster, it touched my hand" you would go straight to a doctor, but not if you say that it was God.
  • Because I believe in the bible, Gods word!
    The bible was not written by God. It was written by people who did not understand some things in their time so they said that a God did it. That happened in many other religions, too but that is another topic and will be discussed another time.
  • Because I don't want to go to hell!
    You base your believe on the existance of a hell, that is not even really made by god but invented by believers. Invented just like the demons around the fallen angel who is sitting in hell between flames. Best you research the topic "Satan" and after some time you will see that it is not, what you have been taught.

Why should anyone believe in God?
  • Because he made everything!
    Yeah, I know that one. "Look at the trees and the complexity of the human eye and ... oh my god the banana, it fits in your hand and your mouth!" - Again, please start reading.
  • Because if not, you go to hell!
    But what if you don't believe in a hell? Why should you believe then?

In the end, after getting the "answers" I still have no clue.
So if any Monotheist (a believer in a one and only god) reads this, I would be glad to get an answer.
If you don't wanna post it here, just send me a mail to clos3rlook[at]gmail[dot]com

Monday, June 7, 2010

To stop thinking

I watch "the atheist experience" very much. It is a show about atheism sponsered by the ACA (Atheist Community of Austin). In that show I heard about the "700 club" a few times now so I just had to check it out.

Now, I am not starting to rant on the program. I am going to tell you about two stories aired on the 700 club.

1st story:
A man had a bad car accident. He crashed frontal with a truck. And it seems he might have been brain dead for some time, or he fell into a short coma, or whatever caused his brain to shut his body down for 90 Minutes.
That man reports how his dead family members, friends and teachers, waited in heaven. How he was welcomed. He reports about a constant singing he heard. He also reports about heavens gate, what it looked like.
His report clearly shows that he thought he was in heaven for those 90 minutes.

Thinking part:
That man was clearly a christian. And his whole life people around him and the church where talking about how you go to heaven or hell. And also he had some picture in mind how it would be on both places. He obviously was convinced that he is a good man and has to go to heaven. So when his mind was stressed out like that, it created exactly the picture he painted for a long time. For him it was like a proof, that heaven exists. He obviously never thought about the fact that he wasn't travelling anywhere while he was unconcious but his brain created the pictures.
I am pretty sure that the same man would have wondered if he maybe is getting insane, would he have seen a barking unicorn, floating trees and purple clouds in that moment.

2nd story:
A woman, her boyfriend, and her two children went hiking. The boyfriend fell down a rock and broke many bones, got brain damage and was at the hospital for a long time.
The woman reports that she prayed a lot, that she even started a blog and asked other people to pray for her boyfriends recovery.
He had to learn everything new (walking, talking, eating, etc), he had many surgeries.
After 4 months he left the hospital.

Thinking part:
The recovery simply had nothing to do with the fact that the woman was praying. He recovered thanks to the helicopter that brought him to the hospital. He recovered because of the good doctors and therapists and because of his own will to survive and learn everything new. Maybe he was a bit more relaxed then others in his situation, because he knew how many people are hoping he is getting well. But it is not the prayer or god who answers a prayer.
He would have gotten just as well, would everyone who had prayed just have called him or drawn a picture or light up a candle or knock on wood three times.

Example of a reaction that might be much more helpful then just stop thinking:
I forget to turn off the candle and fall asleep. At some point I turn around at night and with my blanket I knock the candle down. The carpet and curtains catch fire and I wake up when the room is full of dark smoke and the smell of fire.
My reaction: I am awake at once. I wake up my partner. I call the fire fighter while I grab a blanket try and extinguish the fire. I tell the firefighter what happened and where we are. If I see it is too much fire, I can't extinguish alone, I will turn the light on, try close the window, on my way out close the door, and get out of the house with all my pets. I will wait for the firefighters at the street.
I will hope they do a good job.
If they can extinguish it, I know it is not because I hoped so but because it is there job and they are well trained.
I will not perform any weird ritual believing that this will help...

Ok, something happens to someone and suddenly the person and/or people involved stop thinking rationally.
They just do not use there common sense, their ability to think logically anymore.
What does people make to just stop thinking logically in such situations?
Shock? -> Even in a shocksituation it is possible to react!
The feeling that they can't help? -> You can always try to do something. And if it is only talking to a hurt person.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bible argument

"Did you even read the bible?"

If you as atheist talk to a christian you might hear sentences like that.
Well when I speak for myself I must answer with "well, not the whole bible but enough". This is my opinion just like the other person's opinion is that I have to read the bible even if I do not accept the concept of a god and religion.

When I have a discussion with someone, I talk in a way the other person understands AND accepts.
So if I talk to a christian about a christian topic I will use bible quotes, as the bible is accepted as god's word. Also I will talk about the dayly life of a christian including church services, praying, dogma, rules, reasoning, etc. With the person I will talk about the symbols in the text, the message between the lines and other things. I would also include something like that "it says in the bible this, science said that" and I will find out with that person and based on the person's believes what is more likely.

But the problem in most of these discussions is, that the christian will not use science or logical thoughts when they talk to you. They will talk about religious things only or they twist scientific facts in a weird way so it fits sooomehooow into their believe system.

As I got very tired of "Did you even read the bible?" I decided to read it from the beginning to the end. And I will take you with me on my journey.
Just a little information, I use a catholic bible. Telling you that, because there are slight differences between the bibles (orthodox, catholic, protestian).

So if you are interested in the bible follow the bible series on this blog.
If not, ignore that and read the other things.