Na-ked [ney-kid]

1. plain; simple; unadorned: the naked realities of the matter.
2. not accompanied or supplemented by anything else: a naked outline of the facts.
3. exposed to view or plainly revealed
4. plain-spoken; blunt: the naked truth.

Monday, March 22, 2010

My Atheist Afterlife...

What happens when you die? As a Christian, I always believed that a person goes one of 2 places when they die. I was convinced that all my sins were forgiven, and I would spend eternity in heaven, with all of my Christian friends and family, and I would watch over the loved ones I left behind. I wasn't concerned with being a GREAT person. I figured I just had to do my best to live a life that was pleasing to God, and ask him to forgive me when I made a boo-boo. It was kind of like grade 11 all over again. I didn't care about getting good grades...I just had to pass. In my mind, grade 11 didn't count, because it was my grade 12 and OAC marks that would make the difference in my University choices. I could worry about that later...right now I just needed 50%. I could ditch class, miss assignments, have a good time, and then make up for it later. I thought I had all the time in the world to worry about being great. I wonder how much different it would have been if I had thought that every moment counted? How much learning and experience did I miss out on while I was out frolicking around the mall and smoking cigarettes with friends (yeah, I was cool like that).

Life is kind of like that. As a Christian, I could have fun now, repent later, and it was heaven that really counted...I had plenty of time before I had to worry about that. Who cares if I died young? I was going to live forever in the afterlife. I went to sleep at night, "knowing" that even if my life were to be full of seemingly unbearable hardships, and terrible would all be worth it when I reached those pearly gates.

Am I the only one who thinks that this paints such a sad picture of life? Have we become desensitized to "carpe diem" and "live life to it's fullest"? How can you really live a full life, all-the-while believing that this is really just the shitty forward to a great novel? Personally, I don't read the forwards...I'd much rather just read the book. But I often find myself wondering if I'm missing something by skipping over words that the author clearly thought should be included with his story. Christians often seem like they'd rather fast forward through life, to get to the "good stuff". How much learning and experience are THEY missing out on?!

When I became an atheist, I thought I had to let go of all notions of immortality. There is no heaven, and no hell. Nothing happens when you die. But I believe in immortality. I believe that memories can last forever, if they are worth remembering. Life is my process of creating my own legacy. What I do NOW is what counts. This is my time to be something great. My legacy is my afterlife.


  1. I hardly think that as a Christian that I am fast-forwarding through life to get to the "good stuff". Carpe diem can apply to anyone's life. I live each day to the fullest. Being a Christian doesn't equal "missing out". It also doesn't mean that I think I can do whatever I want and repent in the end and all will be right with the Lord and I will get into heaven. It's ridiculous to think that all Christians live their lives that way. There certainly are those Christians who think that it's okay to live their lives however they chose and they will have a chance to "make up for it later", but that is not how true Christians live their lives. You have a very narrow view about Christianity. Just because you had the experience you did growing up doesn't mean that's how it is or how it is supposed to be. I am living my life...a full life. I don't view it as "forward to a great novel". It is a great life with an even better ending. I would much rather look forward to heaven than to believe in nothing. I think when you die you will realize that something does indeed happen when it's too late for it to matter. I wouldn't want to be you on judgment day.

  2. I'm very well aware that this "view" of Christianity doesn't include all Christians. I also know that things don't quite work the way I have portrayed them, from a Christian perspective. I suppose I'm being a bit cynical when I say that Christians can have fun now, and repent later. I've known MANY good Christian people in my lifetime (which I get the impression you already know). My personal experience with religion wasn't a bad one. I've said in previous posts that I don't regret my Christian upbringing. My childhood was one that most people would be jealous of. Loving family, great parents, siblings that I'm close to. I struggled in my teen years, and early adulthood...but that really had little to do with my home life, or with my religious upbringing. But I've also known a lot of half-assed Christians. Cheaters, liars, thieves, etc. Many of them stood up on the pulpit every week, preaching about sin, all-the-while seeming to believe that they had a free pass into heaven...because they could repent of their sins, and be forgiven. That's a very endearing sentiment...but in many ways, I think it lacks in sincerity.

    I realize that I can come across quite negative in my posts. I guess I use my blog as a sort of an outlet for a lot of my frustrations. Hopefully people don't get too hung up on the tone of my writing, and miss the point completely.

  3. I find it funny that when you present an idea that diverges from that of the Christian viewpoint, you often get the rapture/judgement day response. Actually, a lot of Christian sects can't even agree amongst themselves on what Yahweh was trying to teach them. Everyone else is going to burn because they don’t worship Him properly. It seems to me that people are hedging their bets; they don't know for sure that there's an afterlife with JC but would rather believe in it just in case something happens after they die. After that, they have to choose the sect that best corresponds to their particular beliefs and/or upbringing.

    I honestly believe that most Christians appreciate the time that they have on this earth just as much as I do; Life is a precious thing after all. That being said, I also believe that the belief in a greater reward waiting for you after this lifetime diminishes your appreciation of the finite amount of time that we have. It makes me think of offering a kid an all you can eat ice cream buffet for a week providing that they eat one serving of liver and onions. The liver is good for you and if served up properly, very enjoyable; it's good for you and gives you what you need. What kid wouldn't gladly eat up the liver for the ice cream bar? The reward of something greater will overpower any resistance that the child may have. The same applies to the promise of the afterlife. The human ego is so great that most cannot accept the fact that we will simply cease to exist.

    The thing that amuses me is how the devout are sure that they have made the right choice (despite being raised in their family's particular faith removing choice from the equation). Let's say for the sake of argument that there is an afterlife; who's to say that it's what the Bible promises for the righteous (Hebrew mythos) as opposed to what is promised in Valhalla for mighty warriors(Norse mythos)?

    Since there are hundreds of religious beliefs and zero evidence of any afterlife, I will continue to appreciate the little bit of time that I do have, love with all of my heart and contribute what I can to help better my life and that of others. :)

  4. Dear Sarah:

    (I have to post this is 3 parts as it’s too long for one posting, so bear with me)

    Part 1

    I can't help but feel heavy hearted when I read your blog entries. I can't imagine living life never knowing the joy of sins forgiven and with no hope of eternity. I have been following your blog, but, hesitated to comment on it for a while. Please accept my comments as the opinion of someone who loves you and is concerned. I would never want anything to come between us. But, as a Christian, I feel compelled to defend my faith. "But sanctify the Lord God in you hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. I Peter 3:15." Saying nothing can be viewed as apathy or worse, agreement, and I definitely do not agree with atheism.

    I believe we should live each day to the fullest because we don't know when the Lord will return, "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."

    No one is guaranteed ‘plenty of time before we have to worry about that.’ Coasting through life, doing the bare minimum, believing we can ‘have fun and repent later’, is not true Christianity. I would challenge the authenticity of the conversion, of a person who has that life view. Repentance means a turning from sin and a re-birth. We aren't perfect, only He is, but we are to learn and grow spiritually while we live on this earth and move beyond the old habits and sins we once practiced always striving to become more Christ-like.

    “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Gal 2:8, 9 & 10. I believe it isn’t enough for us to just try to live a good life. Good works alone just aren’t going to cut it. They won’t save us, or atone for our sins. However, good works are a natural result of faith in Christ and are a way to show His love to the world.

    In my opinion, not believing in an after-life that includes heaven and hell is a form of self-deceit. Many people lull themselves into that false sense of security. It’s easier to live your life believing there is no God to be accountable to, and no judgment coming for those who have not accepted His free gift of salvation.

    I don't think Christianity paints a sad picture of life at all! We are to model ourselves after Christ. Love our spouses as Christ loved the church, love one another, return good for evil etc. A life lived like that is anything but sad. There are many references to the joy one feels once saved and the joy experienced in heaven over one sinner who repents.

    As a Christian, I don't live my life in fear and sadness, awaiting the end with trepidation. While I'm not afraid of dying, and I look forward to spending my life in eternity with Him, and re-uniting with my parents and other loved ones, I still want to enjoy my life here. I believe we were put here for a purpose and that purpose is to share the love of Christ with non-believers and live a life that is fulfilling and glorifying to Him. He created a life for humans that includes the possibility for a spouse, children, extended family etc. I believe He wants us to experience love, happiness and fulfillment. He never promised life would always be easy, in fact he tells us that the path a Christian walks is not easy. But He promises to be with us, guiding us, helping us. It is because of Him that we even exist. "For in Him we live and move and have our being, Acts 17:28"


  5. Part 2

    I have always believed that we are all born with a God-shaped void in the soul of each one of us. Saint Augustine, a Christian from ancient Rome one of the Latin Fathers of the Church said, “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.”

    The non-believer senses this void and tries to fill it with money, possession, that dream job, children, family, friends,entertainment, food, travel, and perhaps even sex, drugs and alcohol…..any number of things. But none of those things are God-shaped, so therefore, they don’t fit. The pursuit for this fulfillment is life-long for many. But, when we enter into that personal relationship with Christ, He enters our soul and completely fills that void.

    Dad was a spiritual mentor for me. He had such a capacity to love. What a comfort to know that he prayed for all of us every day. Dad was not a perfect man, he would be the first to admit that, but He loved the Lord and that showed. He loved us without conditions. That didn’t mean that he never expressed his opinion when he was concerned for one of us. Did we ever disappoint him? Sadly, yes. Did he ever turn his back on any of us? Thankfully, no. Was he grieved by the knowledge that not all of his family members were saved at the time of his death? Deeply. But, like Mom, he claimed the verse, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he won’t depart from it.” He and I had some conversations about those things and I know he was at peace when he died. I believe his life showed ‘evidence of faith.’

    Uncle Maurice was another spiritual mentor for me. Though he struggled with cerebral palsy, his faith was unshakeable. If anyone had reason to become discouraged, despondent and bitter, it was him. He faced such obstacles on a daily basis. But, his faith sustained him, and gave him great comfort and joy. He was always prepared to witness and share his faith with others. He wanted them to have the assurance of eternity he had, and to experience the joy he felt. I believe his faith was in evidence every day. I will always remember sitting with him as he was dying and witnessing him nodding and talking to someone I couldn’t see just before he died. He was not asleep, or unconscious, nor was he confused. I believe he had a vision of ‘glory’ as he called it. Perhaps he saw the angels coming to take him ‘home.’

    I often wish that younger members of our family could meet and talk with our grandma Pearse. What an impact she had on our lives. She absolutely lived her faith. I watched her read her bible and pray every single day. She prayed with such intensity and sincerity. She always had an answer for my spiritual questions and shared her spiritual experiences and answered prayers with us. I have no doubt that her faith was real. She demonstrated ‘evidence of faith’ to me. She died when I was 12 and I miss her still.

    Fortunately, you still have your grandmother. Talk with her, Sarah. She would love to share her faith experiences with you. Like mine, your grandmother is the real deal. She would never deceive you or lead you astray. I encourage you to talk with her. I can see that you have done a lot of research on this subject and I hope you have included conversations with your Christian family members and friends in that research. Otherwise, I believe your research is lacking.

    If we set out to research the sinking of the titanic, we could read any available material, view any pictures that exist, visit a museum that houses artifacts from the ship, watch the many documentaries that have been made, even view the recent Hollywood movie about the tragic sinking of that ship, but, none of those options could be a substitute for being able to sit down and talk with an actual survivor of the titanic. Their first-hand accounts of their experience would be invaluable to our research.


  6. Part 3

    I know you say you want evidence. But, as others have already stated, Christianity is based on faith. We put our faith in things every day. When we get in a car, a plane or any other mode of modern transportation, we have faith that it will get us to our destination. We put our faith in doctors who perform medical procedures while we are asleep. For that matter we even have faith in our own bodies, trusting that they will get us around, allow us to move, walk, run, etc. When we swing our legs over the side of the bed each morning we have faith that our legs will bear our weight when we stand. Every single day we put our faith in things, people, technology etc.

    Further to that, I'm sure you have faith in your earthly father. I would venture to say that you know with certainty that he will always love you and be there for you no matter what, in spite of the fact that he is a human with frailties and imperfections. You can't see his love, you can't touch it, you can’t examine it under a microscope and you can’t prove it to others beyond the shadow of a doubt, but you feel it, you experience it, therefore you know it exists. It is a personal relationship you have with your father. I doubt anyone could talk you out of your love for him, or make you doubt his love for you. Why then, is it so difficult for you to put your faith and trust in your perfect, heavenly Father? It's simply a matter of child-like faith.

    As far as all the scientific evidence, books, videos etc, for both sides of this debate, I don’t claim to be well versed. I just know what I feel, what my personal experience has been with Christ as my Saviour. I know He answers prayer, as I have experienced those answered prayers. I have felt His presence, especially during times of crisis. After the birth of my last child, I came very close to dying. While I wasn’t afraid to go to heaven, I was afraid of the dying process, therefore I had some panic when I couldn’t catch my breath, anxiety over the pain I was experiencing and profound sadness at the thought I might have to leave my husband, and 2 little children.

    In the midst of that time of fear, I prayed, as did others. I asked the Lord to give me a sense of peace, despite all I was experiencing. My breathing difficulties did not immediately disappear, nor did the pain. However, the Lord did relieve my anxiety…..I felt his presence with me in intensive care. Am I glad I survived? Of course! But, had He chosen to take me then, I would have been at peace, because He gave me the ‘peace that passeth all understanding’ when I needed it. That is an experience that no one can dispute because it is my experience. I often wondered how my mother could be at peace, knowing she was leaving her family and children who were so young at the time. Now I know. God gives you what you need, when you need it.

    I’m going to quote my mother, who, when we were once talking about and debating pre-millennial amillenial and postmillenial views, said, “The fact is we’re all going to find out together when the end unfolds the way God planned. It won’t matter then which view we had. What matters is that we believe the same gospel and live our lives in such a way that when He returns we will be ready.”

    I love you, Sarah. I pray your search leads you back to Christ.


  7. The impression you are giving is that all Christians are mindless and brainwashed and can't think for themselves. Regardless of how I was raised, I had to make the decision for myself about who and what I believed in. I am quite capable of using my free will and intelligence to make my own choices. Sure it was introduced to me as a child and taught to me in a certain way, but you don't think that at some point we, as intelligent human beings, don't question our faith and sometimes make a choice that differs from that of our parents? I believe what I believe because I BELIEVE it not because I was brainwashed into believing it. If you want to use that argument, what is there to say that you haven't been brainwashed by someone into believing as you do now? Are you so easily swayed that you could be touting your believes because someone else said it is so? Seems ridiculous, doesn't it?

    As for "a greater reward waiting for you after this lifetime diminishes your appreciation of the finite amount of time that we have" all I can say! Man you hit that on the head! Every day I think to myself, I can't wait for this every day living business to be over with so I can get to the good stuff! Seriously, you really think Christians think this way? Of course, we will be glad to get to heaven when our life on earth is over, but that does not mean that we don't value living while we are alive. I can't think of anyone who wants to cut their life short just to get to heaven. Not being afraid to die does not equal not wanting to live. I really wonder where you get your ideas about Christians from. Although, inventive, your liver and ice cream analogy is simplistic at best. You really think religious leaders are saying go ahead and live because it's good for you but the real treat comes when you die? While it may be true that Heaven is something to look forward to when you leave this earth, the fact remains that on earth you are alive and once in Heaven you are not. Call me crazy, but I like being alive! The promise of Heaven is not going to change that fact. I cherish the finite amount of time I have on earth every bit as much as you do. I too love with all my heart and try to better my life and that of those around me.

    Lastly, just because I choose to believe that we don't just cease to exist has nothing to do with ego. It has to do with faith. I believe in God and He has been faithful in His promises and I know He will continue to be right up 'til the end of the world as we know it and into eternity.

  8. Sarah:

    I wasn't getting hung up on the tone of your writing and I am not missing the point. However, I think you are. Just because you knew Christians who were hypocritical doesn't mean the whole of Christianity is also. It's like the old aren't seeing the forest for the trees. Just because there are Christians who are not living their lives the way they profess they are doesn't mean they speak for or represent all Christians. Do you apply that to everything in your life? I ate a bad shrimp so all shrimp are bad...I bought a Honda that was a lemon so all Hondas are lemons. Do you understand what I am getting at? You need to look past the people who were being hypocritical and realize there is something more to Christianity than that. You said yourself you knew many good Christian people. Do the hypocrites render the good Christians null and void?

  9. This is getting confusing with 2 posters called 'anonymous'. Previously,I had to post as 'anonymous' because every other way I tried didn't work. I've been trying to post comments for days and days without success until now, due to computer issues. I signed my posts so you know it's me. Now, I am able to post under my own name. While, in my opinion, the other 'anonymous' poster has some good and valid points, I just wanted to make the differentiation so readers aren't totally confused.

  10. Welcome to the blog Nancy. It's great to have you on board as we encourage people to contribute their thoughts on these topics. You and your family are wonderful loving people and I feel blessed to be a part of it. :-)
    I hope that you will continue to participate in our discussions and offer up more insight.

  11. I do not think that all Christians are mindless, brainwashed and incapable of thinking for themselves. Most of the Christians I know are wonderful and intelligent people. Any organized religion with a set of beliefs and practices falls under the brainwashing category.

    Brainwashing: The application of a concentrated means of persuasion, such as an advertising campaign or repeated suggestion, in order to develop a specific belief or motivation.

    I refer to Christianity because that is the tradition that I was raised in and am most familiar with. You host a weekly church service where scriptures, prayers and songs are repeated, where Christian ideology is reinforced (most of it is good and imparts moral teachings; some it divisive and xenophobic). You host a variety of events, bible camps, bible study groups, etc. You get together in groups, repeat slogans and help shape the thoughts, opinions and feelings of those who come. Children are very susceptible to this approach as they trust their parents implicitly. “Hook ‘em while they’re young.”

    I was brainwashed as a child. I was presented with one religion, one god, one set of practices, one path. I believed with all of my heart, felt His touch in the root of my soul, tried to bring others to His message, endured the ridicule of my peers as I embarked on my journey towards priesthood, etc. I lost my belief when I became aware of the global community. How could an all-loving, omnipotent being allow His special creation to die of starvation, to be ravaged by natural phenomena, to be plagued with disease? This was not the god of love that I had been trained to worship. Once I started questioning what I had been taught, it was only a matter of time before the evidence would eliminate all traces of blind faith.

    As far as my “brainwashing” into atheism is concerned…it was a long and slow process. The difference is that nobody taught me about atheism; I wasn’t brought to a weekly meeting where people shared a lack of belief in gods. In light of overwhelming observable evidence, I had to accept that we are the product of a complex evolutionary process and not the creation of any god(s).
    Faith is a belief without evidence. My knowledge is based on fact and evidence (learned in post-secondary institutions and first-hand); it is not a matter of belief. This doesn’t seem ridiculous to me.

    I have never claimed that Christians want to die. I clearly said in my post that life is precious and that we all appreciate this lifetime. You’ve completely missed the point I was making. I never claimed that Christians wish to cut their lives short just to get to the good stuff; according to your rule book, if you cut it short of your own volition that you go to Hell anyway.

    The promise of a greater afterlife does cast a shadow on this lifetime. How can you truly appreciate every second that you have with your friends and family if you believe that you will be reunited with “most” of them when you die? I cherish my loved ones as I know that this is the only time I have with them. I must make the most of this lifetime so that I can lead a fulfilling and happy life.

    I want you to take the time to think about your idea of Heaven. According to your beliefs, you will be reunited with your Christian friends and family who have earned the privilege of being admitted into Heaven.
    What if your friends followed a different branch of Christianity?
    What if your friends worship ‘false gods’?
    What of the good people in your life who have “sinned” and not repented?
    What of any loved ones lost to suicide?
    Can it be Heaven if you know that many of your loved ones are burning in Hell?
    What if Yahweh removed the memory of these people so that you would not have to endure that torment?
    Would it still be you?

    The ice cream is a lie.

  12. So based on your definition of brainwashing I take it you don't watch television or read newspapers or magazines because they are a form of brainwashing? I would suppose that groups such a AA and NA etc would be out too? As kids we are put into a variety of lessons which might not necessarily be our idea...swimming lessons, piano lessons, dance lessons just to name a few. Now depending on your parents, you may have to take those lessons no matter how much you hate it or are not good at it because they think it is good for you. However, if you have parents like mine, they are presented as options and if you liked it you would stick with it and if not then you could move on to something else. The same goes for Sunday school lessons. We may start off going because of our parents but ultimately it is up to us to decide whether we believe in what we are being taught or not. You could argue anything is brainwashing. I take a yoga class so I am being brainwashed to free my mind...I take an aerobics class so I am being brainwashed to be vain. I mean come on, the list goes on and on. Of course, we trust our parents implicitly when we are young but, whether they take us to Church or enroll us in soccer, they are just presenting us with options. It's not all some big conspiracy to "hook 'em while they're young".

    Did you ever stop to think that maybe you just had a bad experience and that not all religion or ideas of religion are the same as what you grew up with? Some of my friends had similar experiences to your growing up in the Catholic Church. My view of Catholicism was pretty much you can do whatever you want all week long then go to confess all your sins on Sunday and your slate was wiped clean for another week to begin. That is not how I feel overall about Catholicism now but that's the view my friends presented when we were young. My point is, not everyone has that experience of cookie cutter religion so to speak. I have raised my child to question things. I have told him to go to different churches and see what the differences are and decide for himself what he believes. Not all Christians force their beliefs on others or brainwash their children to believe as they believe.

    You seem to take issue with organized religion. So be it. So do I. It can be full of hypocrites who preach one thing and do another. But Christians and Christianity exists outside the walls of organized Churches. It doesn't matter what man preaches, it only matters what God's word says. God is not to blame for starvation, wars, earthquakes and is. God is a God of lover but he also gave us free will. He gave us the earth and a set of guidelines to follow in regards to how we treat our fellow man. We are the ones who have screwed that up. It started with Adam and Eve. The sames goes for the law of the land. If we all disregarded them what a mess things would be. But would you blame the lawmakers for the result of that? No, you would blame the ones who broke the laws.

    You say you were not taught atheism, but it seems that your blog exists for reason. So I would argue that you too are trying to, by your own definition, "brainwash" people to believe as you do. You say your belief is based on "fact and evidence" taught in post-secondary institutions, would that not also be a form of "brainwashing"? Not everyone is taught religion either. The road to belief in a higher power can be a long process for some also.

  13. cont'd

    I didn't miss your point about life being precious. However, I think you have completely missed mine. Believing in an afterlife does not "cast a shadow on this lifetime". Our life on earth is completely different than what our existence in heaven will be. It's not like we think that basically we're going to be doing the same things and living the same life but just in a different place. That's tantamount to saying I don't need to to appreciate and cherish my loved ones now because I have all of eternity to do it. It doesn't work that way. First of all any good Christian wouldn't treat their loved ones like that and second of all, life on earth is just on earth. Our celestial selves in Heaven will not have bodies or know our loved ones as we know them on earth. There is a distinct difference. I find it rather insulting for you to suggest that we take things for granted on earth because we have an afterlife. Just because you believe this is all you have doesn't automatically mean you love and appreciate your loved ones more than I.

    For the record when I was talking about no one wanting to cut their lives short just to get to heaven, it wasn't meant to be literal. And, yes, suicide is sin.

    Who I meet in Heaven will depend on how each person lived their life. I believe that I will see my parents, siblings and grandparents but we will not know each other as we did on earth. It is not up to me to determine who I will meet in Heaven...that is up to God. If I know in life who I probably won't meet in Heaven then it's not going to be a surprise in death. If all the information was presented and they turned away from it, I can live with the knowledge that I did all I could do to ensure I met them there. There is no pain or suffering in Heaven and, as I said, we won't know each other as we did on earth. Again, Heaven and earth are two different things. The person we are on earth is not the celestial being we will be in Heaven so I will not be the me I was on earth.

    The ice cream is not a lie.

  14. I understand your point about people being brainwashed every day. I try to approach everything in my life with the same amount of skepticism. I don't believe what I see on TV, just because the news says it's true. Growing up with a policeman father, I can't even count the number of times that we watched news reports that got the details wrong. If I read a magazine, I know that the images are photoshopped, and that the physical expectations for models are unrealistic and incredibly unhealthy. When I walk into the mall close to a holiday, they are clearly trying to brainwash me into thinking I need a wide variety of items in order to properly celebrate. Does this mean that I spend ungodly amounts of money on these items? Of course not, because my common sense tells me that this is merely a marketing ploy, and that holidays like Valentine's Day are merely cash cows for the retail industry.

  15. My experience of religion while growing up was not a bad one. I loved my church, the fellowship, youth group. There were pastors that I felt comfortable talking to when I had questions. My parents sometimes forced the issue of going to church...but inevitably once we hit a certain age, it was our own decision.

    Once I hit my late teens and early twenties, I struggled with everything from health problems, to relationships, addiction, divorce, and parenthood. There were a few areas of my life that were not met with kind words from the church. This eventually turned me off of the church, but not religion. I continued to worship on my own. I would even say that I developed a more personal relationship with God. There were no distractions. No one interpreting the Word for me. It was just me and God. I didn't need church to be a good Christian. I prayed with sincerety, and tried to live my life in a way that was pleasing to God. When I made mistakes, or hit a bump in the road, I would turn to God to set me on the right path. And all of this worked for me...for a while.

    My deconversion actually came as a result of wanting to know more about the Bible. I wanted to read it, deconstruct it, understand the history of it. I thought this would bring me closer to God. I'd grown frustrated with people asking me questions I couldn't answer. I thought it would make me a better witness for God. This was not the case. Instead, I found contradictions, misinterpretations, and mistranslations. When I tried to reconcile the creation story with what we know about evolution and the origin of the universe, I failed. The creation story itself has inconsistencies, without even getting into the scientific inaccuracies. These findings set me on a path of research and enlightenment...and inevitably caused me to cease believing that there is a God at all.

  16. I have always encouraged my kids to find their own path. I do not force my ideas and thoughts on them. I answer their questions as honestly as I can. When my daughter showed an interest in Christianity, I didn't stop her. In fact, I encouraged it.

    The purpose of this blog wasn't to gain a following or brainwash anyone. Over the course of my studies, I aquired a large amount of information and ideas. I wanted to make sure that in the event my computer died, my collection of information would be safe. So I decided that a blog would be a great place to store this information, add my own personal thoughts, and get some feedback. I haven't gone out of my way to share the blog with anyone. If someone decides to read what I have to say, and wants to share their own thoughts, I've always been more than willing to engage in civil, intellectual conversation.

    As far as heaven is concerned, I struggle with the concept of believing in something that no living person has seen. The common Christian argument, is that oxygen or wind can't be seen, but we know they're there. But heaven isn't measurable. We can't test for the presence of heaven or see it rustling through the trees. How do we know it exists? Every answer to the hard questions seems to be "faith". Questioning extraordinary claims means I lack faith? What is faith? Is it merely the belief in things we cannot see? Or is it the trust we place in things we believe to be true, based on evidence? The dictionary definition and the Biblical definition seem to differ on the subject.

    Thank you for sharing your opinions and beliefs. I appreciate hearing from the people who take the time to read what I have to say.

  17. Aunt Nancy,

    I have been trying to find the right words to respond to you. First and foremost, I have to say that you never have to worry about this coming between us. I love you very much, and I appreciate everything you have to say. You have always been a source of inspiration to me, and I have many fond memories of long talks together when I was younger.

    I loved everything you had to say about members of our family who were strong Christian people. Many of the atheists that I speak to have had unpleasant experiences with Christians, or with the church. This wasn't the case in our family. I grew up with MANY great role models. I've always known that I have a family that many would be jealous of. I have hesitated to "out" myself as an atheist for this very reason. There is a part of me that feels like I'm spitting in the face of my parents...turning my back on the way I was raised. I would never want my family to think that they had somehow contributed to my deconversion, or in some way fallen short in keeping me on the "path of righteousness". Obviously, belief is a very personal choice. Contrary to the fact that we were taught to witness to non-believers...I always kept my Christianity very quiet. Not because I was ashamed of it, but because I was afraid that I wouldn't have the right answers, or that I would have the opposite effect, and turn people off of the idea altogether. I always worshipped very privately.


  18. You mentioned my Grandma. She has to have been one of the most influencial people in my life, if only because I spent so much time with her. When I was in university, we would stay up late watching TV and having long talks about just about everything. She would share stories about her upbringing, her family, her faith, etc. I learned so much about her during this time. Then when I got divorced, and Rob and I were separated, I lived with her again. And again, we had many long late night talks...but this time I had a whole new set of "big girl" problems that I could talk to her about. She taught me about love, and marriage, and struggling through the rough times together. I credit her almost completely with how successfully Rob and I have rekindled our relationship, and inevitably ended up married (something I never thought I would do again). I love her to death, and she is one of the strongest people I have ever known. Her faith seems to be unwavering, and she has held strong through the hardest of situations. I don't know how she does it. As I'm writing this, I am struck by the fact that I should probably tell her that.


  19. Grandpa Roly was another person I always looked up to. He was a quiet man, and I only had a few golden opportunities to hear him really open up and talk about his life. But it was the way he LIVED that was really a witness to people, I think. The way he carried himself, his kindness, forgiveness, unconditional love, and a work ethic that puts pretty much everyone I have ever known to shame. There is no way I could ever deny the positive impact that the Christian people in my life have had on me.

    The problem, for me, does not lie so much in the Christians that I know...but rather in the theology, the historical inaccuracy, and the inefficiency of prayer. And from a social standpoint, I obviously struggle with some of the attrocities committed in the name of God. I am not suggesting that attrocities are not committed by non-believers, which seems to be the common rebuttal to this comment, but rather, am merely observing that a group of people who claim to be striving to be "christ-like" should hold themselves to a higher standard. This does not speak to all Christians, because as I've already family alone is full of people who epitomize what a Christian SHOULD be (faults included).

    I hope that we can continue to discuss things openly and honestly with each other. I really appreciate your feedback.

    Much Love, Auntie!! xoxoxo

  20. Sarah,

    Yes, we have been blessed with many good christian role models in our family. For that I am thankful. Many times I heard one of their voices in my ear when I was struggling.

    Sarah, I'm puzzled by something you said in an earlier post. " I continued to worship on my own. I would even say that I developed a more personal relationship with God. There were no distractions. No one interpreting the Word for me. It was just me and God."

    By definition, a 'relationship' is a 'connection' with someone. I would venture to say that a relationship consists of 2 people who have that connection. In order for a relationship to exist, there has to be interaction and input from both parties. Wouldn't you agree? You said you had a 'personal relationship' with God.

    Speaking from my own personal relationship with Christ, I would have to say that there is giving and receiving on both sides. I give the Lord my love in the form of praise and worship, my faith, in the form of trust and obedience and my praise, cares and petitions in the form of prayer. He receives these things from me and in return He gives me His love in the form of blessings, guidance, protection and answered prayer.

    If you don't believe that God exists, Sarah, how did you have a 'personal relationship' with Him? A relationship that was 'just me and God?" I'm just gently asking, ok?

    Speaking for myself, I would have to say that once I experienced a deep, personal relationship with Christ, I realized there is nothing else on earth that matches it....nothing that can replace it.

    While God loves us and 'is not willing that any should perish', we have to sincerely repent and recieve his gift of salvation. Then we enter into, and contribute to, the relationship. I remember when I was a teenager, someone had a sticker in there bible with the slogan, 'If your relationship with God isn't as close as it used to be, guess who moved!'

    I believe that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. The times in my life when I didn't feel close to Him it was because I had pulled away from him or erected barriers between us. Perhaps because of sin, hurt & bitterness, disillusionment with 'christians' who hurt me, etc....... Whatever the reasons, when I drew closer to Him again, each time, He had never moved, never left me....I chose to walk away from him for a season.

    Just some things to think about....... I love you too. xo

    Aunt Nancy

  21. I think this quote explains it better than I can.

    Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true. ~Demosthenes

    I wanted the relationship, therefore I made it exist. I think of it as a child with an imaginary friend. Many kids REALLY believe that their friend is real. They talk to him, play with him, ask him to protect them from bad guys. But it doesn't change the fact that their friend is still imaginary. Eventually the child will grow out of this behaviour, and begin to develop more meaningful relationships with kids that he can actually see, and touch, and interact with on a more physical level. Kids who can be more active participants in conversations and activities...even though the imaginary friend probably listened a lot better, and seemed a lot more sympathetic and loyal.

    I'm not trying to be cynical or's just the best analogy I can think of to explain how I feel about my past "relationship" with God.

  22. Sarah,

    I'm so glad that He's not my imaginary friend, but rather, the most real, the most loyal friend I've ever had. Obviously, an imaginary friend could never answer a child's prayers. I know that if I were to cite examples of answered prayer in my life, you would both say they're purely subjective observations, yet answered prayer is one way I know God is real.

    I sometimes feel like atheists are calling christians delusional. God is not a delusion.

    God gives us many promises in His Word, and I believe them b/c they have proven to be true in my life. I don't know how else to say it.

    If one truly, sincerely repents of sin, asks God's forgiveness and receives His Holy spirit into their heart, there won't be any more doubts or questions. All I can say is that when a real conversion, a real re-birth happens, God reveals Himself to that person through His Holy Spirit. I've experienced that re-birth, as have many others,

    As much as I would like to be able to give you that experience so you would feel His presence and know He is real, no one can give another person that experience..... it has to be a personal acceptance of salvation.

    "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven, given to men, by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12 (NIV)

    I've been reflecting on the lives of my maternal grandparent, my parents, and other spiritual mentors. Your grandmother and her sister, were mentors for me as well. The following verse puts me in mind of all of them;

    "The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just. The law of his God is in his heart; his feet do not slip." Psalm 37:30 (NIV)

    Psalm 37 was my grandmother's psalm. She called it, "The don't worry, psalm." I have often read it when I have felt misunderstood or emotionally persecuted. I;ve come to love it like she did.


  23. I've never been the type of person to call into question other people's beliefs. I don't judge those who still choose to believe in the things that I reject. A certain family member who has a terminal illness approached me at a family gethering. This person was talking about how they live each day for Christ, and are ready to go to heaven whenever God decides that time should be. I didn't question those statements, or point out what I perceived as flaws in what was being said. Instead, I am glad that this person has something to take comfort in during this time of struggle. I don't take issue with someone who prays, worships God, goes to church, lives their life for Christ. I know of many people who turned their lives around from a life of drugs, and alcohol, and other sins, to living a clean, happy and healthy life for Christ. That's wonderful. How can I argue with that? When I start to take issue, is when people use their faith as an excuse to discriminate, to argue against proven scientific evidence, or use their place of authority to take advantage of people. I am bothered by those who use prayer as a substitute for actions. I know that these people do not represent all Christians, but they are problems that I have encountered far to often to just sweep them under the rug.

    I'm more of a live and let live kind of person. If it works for you, that's awesome. This blog may seem contradictory to that statement...but it's really more of a place for me to vent, or keep record of my own journey. I do enjoy the feedback, although I'm not out to gain any followers. My mission at the moment is breaking down the history and validity of the Bible itself. Without that, Christianity is nothing. If the Bible is the One True Word, then I need to know how that Word came to be, and that I can trust what is written in it. So far, I have found no such supporting evidence.

    I think it's great that you've found comfort in your beliefs, and that it helps you to lead a fuller, happier life.


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