Friday, August 29, 2014

Pt. 2 The Exodus of My Deconversion

As I began to question my faith in Christ, I started to learn more about the world's major religions without any Christian bias clouding what I discovered.

Here are some of the highlights of what I discovered:

1. I learned that the oldest religion in the world is Hinduism.
2. I learned that the religions in the Mesopotamia region and Persia gave us a blueprint for many of the stories that would end up in the Bible.(flood story, Adam and Eve story, Garden of Eden)
3. I learned that the God of the Old Testament was a composite of many of the ancient Canaanite gods(mainly El Shaddai, El Elyon, Adonai, and Yahweh)
4. The OT did not have a concept of hell as eternal damnation or heaven as eternal bliss
5. The Adam and Eve story had a talking snake, but not a Satan
6. Hinduism has many gods which are all a manifestation of Brahma, the ultimate reality
7. Buddhism had its roots in Hinduism, like Christianity did in Judaism
8. Buddhist ideas spread from India into the Hellenic world through interaction with the troops from Alexander the Great
9. Platonic as well as other Greek philosophical ideas influenced Jewish thinkers during this period
10.The oldest vegetation-rising and dying savior god is Asaru(Osiris). His story influenced other stories about vegetation gods and goddesses throughout the Near East, including Jesus
11. The oldest religious cults were based on the divine feminine principle
12. There are only seven Pauline letters that are accepted as genuine, The other letters are thought to be forgeries
13. Generally eastern religions seek god internally and western religions seek god externally
14. There have been people throughout history who have been skeptical of gods and religion
15. I learned that Jesus is a mythical figure based off of various Greek, Egyptian, and Near East gods and goddess

After taking all of this and even more information in, I knew that at best Christianity was a remix of other religions.  I also learned that various concepts about god would change to meet the latest scientific discoveries of the day.  This lasted until scientists and philosophers had the courage to suggest that god wasn't needed to explain natural phenomenon.

I knew that my freedom and deliverance from Christianity came as a result of me actually thinking, challenging my beliefs and not just blindly following what I had been taught. The deprogramming, dismantling and destruction of my old belief system was in full swing.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Genesis of My Deconversion Pt.1

My journey away from Christianity toward free thought came in phases as theological concepts that I once held as true began to collapse.

It started off simply with questioning the principle of tithing. I remember the scripture in the book of Malachi in the 3rd chapter..."Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings." I took that concept without any questions. I was taught that tithing in the modern era deals with giving 10% of your income. I was never sure if it was gross or net income. As I began going through my process, I decided to investigate tithing for my self. I discovered that the word tithes only appears 21 times in the Bible and in no case does it has to do with money. Tithing deals with produce and farm animals.  I felt a great sense of anger, guilt and dread because I was mislead and mislead others. I began to wonder if there were other errors or misinterpretations that I never questioned.

As I continued this journey,I saw a documentary on the History Channel about the Banned Books of the Bible. I wondered why I had never heard of these books before in church. These banned books had different ideas about the nature of God and the divinity of Jesus. This piqued my curiosity to investigate these texts for myself.

Most of these books were written before the Bible had it's final canonization. There were different gospels like the gospel of Judas, Peter, Philip, and Thomas. This revelation got me to wondering about an odd passage in the book of Jude:

"And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him."

I never remembered Enoch saying this in the book of Genesis. Where did this scripture quote come from? It came from the book of Enoch, a book that did not make into the final 66 books of the Bible.

I started to investigate further and discovered that the canonical gospels were not the oldest books in the New Testament, the writings of Paul were. Paul's first letter to the church at Thessalonica is the oldest book in the New Testament, written about 30-50 years after supposed crucifixion of Jesus(about 60-80 CE). The dates for the gospels come much later even well into the second century
(80-150 CE). Even the most conservative date estimates put the gospels at least 30 years after the supposed events occurred. The other books in the New Testament fall within the years of 80 CE-150 CE.

How can accuracy be maintained when most of the Roman world was illiterate? This began to bother me. Stories I heard before about God protecting the sanctity of his book throughout history began to ring hallow. I could no longer believe that.

In addition, I started reading books that discussed errors and contradictions in the Bible. I learned that entire passages like Mark 16:9-20 were not included in the oldest manuscripts. Plus there were no original manuscripts of the gospels written in the language that was spoken:Aramaic. There were only copies of copies of copies. The oldest of these copies only dates back to the second century; 100 years after the supposed death of Jesus.

During that same time period, all those countless gospels existed side by side with the ones that would make the final cut. This period of having multiple gospels would go on for another 200 years!

Then I found out that church leaders convened a meeting(4th Century Council of Nicea, in present day Turkey) to decide, among other things, which books would serve as the basis for a codified volume of scripture that would unify the various factions of the churches. So once again, I am supposed to believe that God gave wisdom to the church leaders to pick the books that were divinely inspired. I don't have enough faith for that.

The Gospel of Mark, reported to be the earliest written, did not have a virgin birth narrative. Neither did the Gospel of John the last gospel written among the canonical gospels. Also, Matthew and Luke, which both contained very different virgin birth narratives, borrowed heavily from Mark's Gospel. In addition, the supposed authors of these gospels would have already been dead when these gospels surfaced and they were written in Greek.

I started to ask many questions:How did Matthew know the intimate details of the messiah's birth? Who told him, if only Mary and Joseph were present? Why don't the details of the birth of Jesus match? And why are there four different resurrection account?

For the first time I started reading the Bible through the lens of reason versus the lens of faith. What I saw was a book that were full of stories and accounts that did not always make sense. I learned that the Bible was compiled over many centuries by many different authors, writing to diverse audiences, with various agendas in mind. It was not a cohesive book that came from heaven completed from Genesis to Revelation by the hand of God. It was a very flawed human book, full of errors, fables, and contradictions.

I used to be an avid apologist, defending the word of God and the faith. I knew that I could no longer defend either. My eyes became opened.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Atheism 101 Pt.3 What I Believe

When I started to embrace the word atheist, I began to notice how describing myself with that controversial label stopped dialogue with others. People easily became silent. I thought that folks would engage me in conversation, but they did not. I guess they thought the worst of me and my stance. Who knows?

What I gleaned from those awkward exchanges taught me how important a god concept remains to a large number of people in society. I used those situations to think about what I actually do believe in. My lack of belief in god does not make me an empty person, contrary to popular ideas. I believe in lots of things, just not god or the supernatural.

Here is a list of things I believe in:

1. I believe in the potential of all human beings.
2. I believe in freedom.
3. I believe in regular exercise and maintaining a healthy diet for good health.
4. I believe in now and living in the moment.
5. I believe in democracy.
6. Even after all of the atrocities committed by this country against its citizens and others, I still believe in the ideals of the United States of America.
7. I believe in my family.
8. I believe in having healthy relationships: familial, platonic, romantic.
9. I believe in mutual monogamy.
10. I believe in the Detroit Lions. It may take more faith to believe in them than in jesus.
11. I believe in the resurgence of my hometown, Detroit.
12. I believe that education can open doors for people.
13. I believe that power, authority, wealth, and influence should be used to help improve the lives of others.
14. I believe the arts can touch the psyche of people in a way that allows us to experience the sublime.
15. I believe that my life will have meaning.
16. I believe that when I die, I will simply cease to exist.

These three ideas describe me:
Atheist describes my lack of belief in the supernatural.

Agnostic describes my lack of knowledge in objectively measuring the supernatural.

Humanist describes my faith in humanity solving its problems without the need for perceived supernatural intervention. If we wait on god to fix the problems in the world, they will never get fixed. It is up to us to make the world a better place.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Atheism 101 Pt.2 What is Atheism?

Here are my simple definitions for atheism and agnosticism:

Atheism is a lack of belief in all things supernatural including gods and goddesses.
This definition answers the questions of belief and faith not of knowledge.
Example: Do you believe in god or a higher power?

Agnosticism is a lack of knowledge on whether the supernatural, including gods and goddesses, can be objectively known.
This definition answers the question of if god or other supernatural beings can actually be objectively known.
Example: Do you know if there is a god?

Faith communities who believe that their religion holds the absolute truth are atheistic toward other faith communities. They lack belief in a competing communities religious ideas.

Example: Christians lack belief in the teachings of Islam because their doctrine denies the divinity of Jesus. Christians believe in the divinity of Jesus.

Example two: Muslims lack belief in the teaching of Christianity because their doctrine teaches God as a triune being. Muslims believe in the singleness of God.

However, Christianity and Islam both lack belief in the many gods and goddess of the Hindu religion, personified as Brahma.

Ergo, when folks ask the question, "Do you believe in god? My answer is, I don't know what god you are talking about. People have believed in countless numbers of gods since time immemorial. Which one created the universe?

I believe in now and making the most out of this opportunity in front of me.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Atheism 101 Pt.1 Definitions

I would like to inform you of what atheism is and what it is not along with other useful definitions. Please pay attention the bolded words.

Let's start with some basic definitions:(All definitions from the New American Oxford Dictionary unless otherwise noted)

Belief: an acceptance(emphasis added) that a statement is true or that something exists; something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion(emphasis added) or conviction

Faith: complete trust(emphasis added) or confidence in someone or something; strong belief(emphasis addedin God or in the doctrines of a religion(emphasis added), based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof

Trust: firm belief(emphasis added) in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something; acceptance(emphasis added) of the truth of a statement without evidence or investigation(emphasis added)

Religion: belief in and worship(emphasis added) of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods: ideas about the relationship between science and religion

Theism: belief(emphasis added) in the existence of a God or gods, esp. belief in one god as creator of the universe, intervening in it(emphasis added) and sustaining a personal relation to his creatures

Monotheism: the doctrine or belief(emphasis added) that there is only one God

Polytheism: the belief(emphasis addedin or worship of more than one god

Deism: belief(emphasis added) in the existence of a supreme being, specifically of a creator who does not intervene(emphasis addedin the universe

Pantheism: a doctrine that identifies God with the universe, or regards the universe as a manifestation of God

Agnostic: a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable(emphasis added), or that human knowledge is limited to experience(

Skeptic: a person who questions(emphasis added) the validity or authenticity of something purporting to be factual(

Unbelief: the state or quality of not believing(emphasis added); incredulity or skepticism, especially in matters of doctrine or religious faith(

Atheism: disbelief or lack of belief(emphasis added) in the existence of God or gods

Humanism: an outlook or system of thought(emphasis added) attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters

Theists make a claim of ultimate supernatural authority based on belief without evidence or investigation, atheists deny the claim of supernatural authority based on belief. Atheists require investigation and evidence of supernatural claims because belief is not enough.

Thanks for bearing with me through all of these definitions! I will refer to them in future Atheism 101 posts. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Problems with prayer

I used to pray "without ceasing" hoping and a-wishing for god to show up in my situation. Most of those prayers ended up unanswered. After my deconversion, I started to think about what drives people to pray. A classic christian definition for prayer states: Prayer is communion and communication with god. People speak, then god speaks. When ministers teach about prayer, they often tell the congregants that prayers are not valid unless you say "in Jesus name" before you end.

A 2006 study in the American Heart Journal determined that there was no difference in outcomes for people who were prayed for and those who weren't. My goal today focuses on what folks really hope to accomplish with prayer.

Let's start with a simple prayer and dissect it. "Lord, thank you for the food I am about to receive. Bless the hands that prepared it and let it be nourishment for my body in Jesus name, amen."

The first part of the prayer: Lord, thank you for the food I am about to receive, translates to
"Without you God, I would not be able to eat this food." This first line totally discounts the role of the grocery store, restaurant, or the one who prepared the food. Unless the food dropped out of the sky like manna from heaven, then why not at least thank god for the restaurant, supermarket, or the person who prepared the food.

The next part get really interesting: Bless the hands that prepared it, translates to, "God please make sure that the person handling my food before I got it did not have a communicable disease. If they did, please take it away. Also God please keep me safe, since I am paranoid that the devil will infect the food supply."

Here's the final part: "And let it be nourishment and strength for my body in Jesus name, amen." This translates into, "God, I can fill my body with fast food, carbonated high calorie drinks, and a dessert. I know that you will mystically bless that mess that I just put in my body. You will protect me from the consequences of my poor eating habits because I said the magic jesus name, amen."

Here's my takeaway regarding prayer. People pray because they want god to violate the laws of nature for their own benefit. Folks want god to stack the deck in their favor in order for them to supposedly gain an advantage in a situation that they would not have. Even when individuals pray for someone else, the prayor still wants their prayers for the other person answered. 

In my opinion, this make prayer the most selfish thing a person can do. Life is tough and everything a person does involves a level of risk. People must determine what level of risk is acceptable based on the situation. Also, instead of praying for someone, I find a real tangible way to help them.

Nothing is wrong with gratitude. Instead of thanking an invisible, imaginary god for stuff, I thank real, breathing human beings for their assistance.

Source for 2006 intercessory prayer study:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Damn, I compromised my integrity!

Back in 2012, I began to realize the difficulties of swimming against the current. Although in this case, the current represented christianity. For most of my life, I identified as a believer in jesus christ and all of my social, professional, and familial relationships had connections through the church. To walk away from that significant network took courage, but down this new road of freedom, I found myself looking back.

As I stated in another post, I experienced great difficulty in the dating scene as a non-believing atheist. During the fall of 2012, I started to come up with reasons why I should go back to church. In the African-American community, the church has social, political, economic, as well as spiritual significance. I felt like I was missing a part of my cultural heritage, not to mention that the odds of finding a non-believing African-American woman in Metro Detroit were slim to none.

Maybe I could go back to church, for the cultural connectivity that it could provide and reject the spiritual parts.  I also felt like I would be more marketable to the ladies, if I could proudly say that I belonged to a church. I thought this through and decided to give it a chance. This gave me access to date some of the best and brightest Black women in Metro Detroit. Access that an educated Black Atheist Man would never have. In addition, I missed playing the organ, being a worship leader as well as being part of that community that I had great familiarity with.

Having grown up in church and been a worship leader for many years, I went back into my metaphorical christian closet and pulled out my jesus gear.(note:just because I no longer believe doesn't mean I forgot everything I knew about church and christianity) Although my dating prospects increased substantially from late 2012 through early 2014, I felt my integrity being compromised and I did nothing about it. I was glad to be accepted again because rejection sucks.

I started to fall back into my former christian ways, I began to read the bible again and even started back tithing. I knew that I could not return to my former fundamentalist christian ways, but I thought I could follow a more liberal view of christianity. I began to read books from Bishop John Shelby Spong, Marcus Borg, Bishop Carlton Pearson, and other liberal theologians. The irony is most of the women who I dated during this time were hardcore fundamentalist christians, so things still didn't really mesh. I would keep my views about sin, the devil, and hell to myself. Even though I went back, I still didn't believe in sin, satan, and eternal torment.

During the insanely brutal winter of 2014, I began to ask myself, "Is this really worth it to you? What have you gained by going back?"

I felt like I had lost touch with the freethinker that I had become back in 2010. Something needed to happen to shake me up. Thank goodness for the combination of a bad sermon and a grand display of christian ignorance about the scripture at church. These actions along with re-reading entries from this blog, reminded me why christianity is BS.

I wasted 18 months of my life and compromised my integrity dabbling again with christianity. I allowed the loneliness and difficulty of the path of freedom to muck with my emotions. However I am glad that I went back to church and christianity again. Now I realize that I have truly outgrown that infantile belief system and I am ready to truly see the world as it is.

Recently,I have met others on the path of freedom, ergo my journey doesn't feel like it felt before. It feels much, much better. In addition, I have the resolve to live my life to the fullest. I have added outdoor running to my exercise routine, and that clears my head each morning before leaving for work. I am committed to see this freethinking path through to the end of my life and educate folks along the way. Plus, I will expand my dating pool beyond where it is now,focus more on open-mindedness, common interests, and good old-fashioned chemistry.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My top 10 reasons for living god-free

I usually do not like doing top ten lists but I am feeling one today. So here goes...

My top ten reasons for living god-free(in no particular order)

1. No more fear of going to hell because hell does not exist(and neither does heaven)
2. Instead of wasting time praying, I can put my energy into action
3. Extra money since I don't have to worry about being cursed for not tithing
4. I can help someone because it is the right thing to do, instead of doing it for spiritual browning points.
5. My steps are ordered by me and not by some imaginary otherworldly being
6. I walk by sight and have very little use for faith(except when it comes to my favorite football teams)
7. I am free to explore the world without an inherent christian bias
8. Sex without guilt
9. Peace of mind, knowing that my mind is not a battlefield between the holy spirit, satan, and the flesh
10. Making the most of my time on earth because once I die that's it.

Bonus: I can be in awe of the miracle of life that is me, understanding that I have descended from countless people, animals, and microorganisms until I get to compounds, elements, stardust, then perhaps...nothingness.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Reflections of my former self

Recently, I reflected on my christian days and thought about how if my former self could see me now, he would be in total shock! I was a blood washed, tongue talking, prophesying, tithing, church attending christian. I had a strong bias against any belief that would "exalt itself against the knowledge of god." I thought I was being compassionate when I told people that "god has a plan for your life, accept jesus into your heart or face an eternity in hell!" Now that I have left my former life behind, I realize how nasty of a person I was for saying those things. I thought I was showing people the unconditional love of christ, but what I really did was alienate others from me.

Eventually, even as I became seemingly more tolerant as a christian, I still harbored those thoughts in my heart. I would tell people that all faiths are good to live with, but christianity is the only one that you could die with. I thought that my belief was superior to all others, even though I would smile and listen to others of a different religious tradition. I am remorseful for what I thought,said and did. I know that I was cruel to people by only pretending to understand where they were coming from because I thought I had the answers.

Now I work to embrace the differences that people have. The proverbial shoe now rests on the other foot because now I am the person whose non belief gets rejected by christians. I cannot change the fact that I damaged people with my stinking thinking, now I desire to give people the tools to discovering their personal freedom.

I used to think that living by faith in christ was freedom, but it was slavery to a doctrine that had no room for individuality. Now, I want to live in a world where the character of a person holds more weight than their beliefs about god.

Through this blog and my Facebook page, I desire to educate people about how to take steps away from religion. I want to assist people in discovering their freedom. Of course, freedom means different things to different people and I want to assist them on their journey through the words I write on this blog.

One thing that has remained constant within me throughout my life is the desire to help people. Deconversion did not destroy my passion to help others, if anything, I am more determined because my time on this earth will end. I need to make the best of the time I have left because there is no afterlife; this moment is all I have.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Tales of a Black Male Atheist: Finding love after your faith is gone Pt. 2

Tales of a Black Male Atheist: Finding love after your faith is gone Pt. 2: Once I walked away from the faith that I once loved with all of my might, I quickly discovered that the world no longer made sense in the wa...

Finding love after your faith is gone Pt. 2

Once I walked away from the faith that I once loved with all of my might, I quickly discovered that the world no longer made sense in the way that it once did. The universe seemed to turn on its head. It felt like learning how to ride a bike again for the first time. The old rules that I lived by no longer applied to my current state of affairs. This feeling of awe mixed with slight trepidation made for an interesting learning process in every area of my life. 

As a Christian I knew exactly what kind of woman I wanted to have a romantic relationship with: A Proverbs 31 woman. In modern Christianity, this chapter epitomizes what kind of woman every Christian man would want to have. However now that I am no longer a Christian, I was left with a quandary of sorts: What kind of woman would I want to have a relationship with now? I felt a bit disoriented, but in a good way because I was breaking free from more diabolical Christian programming.

Having a strong, virtuous, Christian woman used to take precedence when I looked for a potential love interest. Even after my deconversion, I still tried to date strong Christian woman, but my atheist label would send them heading for the proverbial hills. I continued to try and date Christian women because I naively believed that I would be judged on the content of my character and not the basis of my non belief.

According to a 2007 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, 83 percent of African-Americans identify as Christian. Ergo, I figured that it would be easier to find an open-minded Black Christian woman. My experiences speak to the contrary, and I was most definitely judged by the basis of my non belief. Part of the reason that I tried to date these women was because I was looking for validation and acceptance due to the fact that the larger society has major issues with the non belief community. I desired to see the agape love in action, but alas, so-called agape love doesn't apply to a christian-non christian romantic relationship. After getting dissed, time and time again, I decided to take a stand.

I have finally given up on dating Christians. I also no longer feel for validation with regards to my secular humanist view of the world. Folks will accept me for who I am and folks will reject me for who I am. My focus remains on living in the present moment. If someone significant comes during that moment, wonderful! Most importantly, I accept and love myself. Indeed, loving yourself is the greatest love of all. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Tales of a Black Male Atheist: Wasting your life away waiting...

Tales of a Black Male Atheist: Wasting your life away waiting...: One of the biggest issues I have with 21st Century Christianity deals with how it focuses on living for the future as opposed to living in ...

Wasting your life away waiting...

One of the biggest issues I have with 21st Century Christianity deals with how it focuses on living for the future as opposed to living in the present moment. The doctrine teaches things such as god has a special plan for your life, god will exalt you in due time, if you don't lose heart, your blessing is on the way, keep holding on until your your change comes, god is faithful to his promises.

While a person waits on these supposed promises, they believe that god will come through for them. When he doesn't, they have a built in excuse for god's failure to grant them their request. Christians usually say that god has something better for them or it is not time for them to have this particular blessing yet. These unfortunate souls waste their lives away waiting for future glory as opposed to living in the present. Instead of being passive about their lives, these folks need to be active in living.

For example, if someone desires better employment, they should put themselves in situations which can allow them to network(get help with a revamp of their resume,volunteer, join a professional group, etc.) instead of sitting on the sidelines of life waiting on a god who does not exist to give them something that they can get on their own.

Also, I must mention how some Christians will use the classic scripture about faith without works is dead when it comes to something that they want to do in the present. For things that they know they probably won't get, they go back to the pseudo-promises listed in the first paragraph.

We only have limited time to live before we expire. This time should be used to enjoy life and use our abilities to make it the best that we can. Putting our mental, physical, and emotional resources in a "god who never shows up or shows out", takes away the autonomy to live as we deem best.

Also, I have been gone for awhile, it's good to be back! I will let you know what I have been up to in future posts.