A Personal Response to a Talk by The Thinking Atheist

I don’t get as emotionally moved as I did when I was a Christian (maybe that’s for another post – how Christianity uses emotions to manipulate people).  Well – I do – but not nearly as often.  But tonight was an exception.

First I read this post on The Friendly Atheist website:

Stop Thinking that God is the Answer to Everything

I watched this video clip in it from DarkMatter2525:

Which was great – but then I watched the 45 min talk from the Thinking Atheist that inspired the video (it’s mentioned at the end of the first video.).

Wow.

I’d heard of The Thinking Atheist but hadn’t really checked out any of his stuff.  His talk impressed me at first because it made so many points that I try to make on my site.  But then near the end he really hit home with me.  I really encourage you to watch the whole talk – but at the VERY least – watch it from 34 min onwards to see what struck me so powerfully and personally.

So now that you’ve watched from at least 34 min onwards – here is what struck me so powerfully.

1.  Teaching children that hell is real and that they will go there if they don’t accept Christ is psychological abuse.  That may sound extreme but it’s not.  And as he’s talking I’m thinking back to how I became a Christian.  My 21 year old brother had just committed suicide (I was 10).  Then I was invited to a youth group and church and bible camp where they told me this same story over and over (often in very intense and emotional ways) – that anyone who doesn’t accept Jesus as their personal saviour is going to an eternal and literal hell.  What kind of a free choice did I really make???  I didn’t.  I was a defenseless 10 year old girl who had just suffered a terrible, confusing, life-changing loss.  I didn’t know what happened to people when they died.  But they convinced me that there was a literal heaven and a literal hell and I had to make a choice and I had better make it fast because no one knows when they’ll die and face God’s judgment.  I know those people really believed what they taught me and I’m not angry with them – but if I look at it as a bystander – watching that little girl try to make sense of what had just happened to her brother and now trying to make sense of the world and her own life – what a horrible and awful thing to do to her – scare the living shit out of her.  They made me fear that my brother had gone to hell and that I was headed there too.  It seriously brings tears to my eyes – not because I’m sad for myself – but because I’m sad for that little girl.  I want to reach out and hug her and console her and tell her not to listen to those people trying to scare her.  They used my loss and pain and fear as a weapon to convert me.

It makes me sad and it makes me angry that children are taught this all over the world and even more – it breaks my heart to think that I did that to my two oldest children.  I was in a particularly vulnerable place when the Christians came into my life but it’s wrong to do this to children no matter what is going on in their lives.  This isn’t a fair presentation of one particular viewpoint where they are then free to choose – it’s psychological manipulation and abuse to get a desired outcome.

(And yes – they did show us those Thief in the Night videos that he mentions about the rapture and tribulation – with people being killed by guillotine because they waited too long to accept Christ.  I did a quick search and you can watch them on youtube – unfortunately.)

2.  At the end he says that the responses he gets from people reminds him that he is not alone and he is not crazy.  Then he whispers, ‘You’re not alone and you’re not crazy!’  How I wish I’d watched this video when I was in the midst of my intense, painful journey out of Christianity.  How I wish I’d heard him whisper those words back then.  I had the god glasses on for 20 years and when they came off the world was such a scary place that I really thought I might be crazy.

It’s been awhile since I’ve felt that way – but I hope that my website might help even one person going through the same struggle I did while losing my faith.  Some people leave christianity effortlessly – but for others (like me) it is extremely painful and difficult.  Taking the god glasses off can be scary and life-changing – but it gets better – much better.

Now if you didn’t watch the entire video – go back and watch it.  Some really great stuff in there that took me a long time to figure out – but he has it nicely condensed 🙂

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4 thoughts on “A Personal Response to a Talk by The Thinking Atheist

  1. Definitely look up Mr. Deity if you haven’t already. Poignanat videos about the absurdity of it all, God’s “identity crisis,” the issue of penal substitution–“God sacrificed himself…for himself…to save us from himself…”

    • Yes – I LOVE Mr.Deity! He was actually one of the reasons that I knew I wasn’t really crazy for thinking that the Christian story didn’t make sense … along with Christopher Hitchens.

  2. Thank you for this! I was raised in a Christian home and I’ve been on a spiritual journey most of my life. As a kid making that early profession of faith. As a teen, rededicating my life to Christ many times. Then taking an agnostic tour through most of my 20s. Now I’ve been a devout Christian for 11 years. I’m 40 and homeschool my 4 children. I had a Tres Dias experience this past spring, yet everything you say and these atheist references have said rings true for what constantly screams in the back of my mind. On the other hand, I’m desperately afraid of dying and this being THE END of me. That horrifies me, but I’m tired of feeling like I’m living a lie. ;'( I probably still fit best in the agnostic category, because I’ve seen the power of prayer/meditation work too many times. Plus I know it brings people together in spirit. I understand my “experience” may be “unimpressive” to others, but it’s why I believe in something more. I don’t believe anyone has ever really figured out the spiritual side of humans. 😉 Not even the atheist…

    • Sheryl,
      A couple of things for you to consider.
      About death being the end, I remember watching a video with Penn Jillette I believe, where the question of being scared of death came up. He basically said that he didn’t fear the time before he was alive, so why would he fear the time after he’s dead? To me, it made perfect sense and made me realize that there really is no difference so I shouldn’t be afraid.
      As far as the power of prayer, I can definitely say that in my own life, it was a complete failure. You say you’ve seen times where it worked, but I guarantee you’ve also seen it fail. If something works and fails, I’d call that random chance. Plus, does god ever do anything impossible? There’s a whole website around the question of why god doesn’t heal amputees, and it boils down to the fact that the only prayers that work are the ones that have a chance of them naturally occurring. Limbs don’t grow back because that doesn’t happen naturally. Prayers for cancer sometimes work because our technology can fix it or our own immune systems can sometimes fight it off. It’s not a miracle, it’s coincidence.
      Is there really a spiritual side, or is it just an emotional side wrapped up in the guise of spirituality? Most of the high brought on by religions like Christianity are based on emotions. Get a crowd of people together and get them excited about something and it amplifies the emotion. It’s not really god, it’s just the environment causing these feelings.
      Those are my views on the issues you brought up. I don’t know if they’ll convince you of anything but I’ve seen the arguments on both sides of those issues having been a Christian for around 30 years. Once I realized none of it stood up, I had no choice but to abandon it completely.

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