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Why I am an atheist – Kristen G

When I was 13 years old and still interested in being a good
Presbyterian, I came across a few issues with my Bible that no one was
willing to discuss with me. I kept finding lines telling me that I was
inferior to men, that I should submit to their instructions and
desires, that I should accept and learn from my father’s or my
husband’s punishments, like a child should from its parents and a
slave should from its master. I told my youth group leader I could
never tolerate that, that no man would ever be the boss of me and
would certainly never punish me. If I ever got married it would be as
an equal partner in a loving, mutually-respectful pairing, and I would
file for divorce at the first inkling that my husband thought our
family had a hierarchy. He tried to pull the same old bullshit that
you hear again and again–yes, wives are to submit to their husbands
and men are the default heads of households, but husbands are required
to love their wives as Jesus loved the church, so see, it’s all fair.
Moreover, in the rearing of children it is necessary for someone to
have the final say in any decision, so see, you need your husband to
be in charge. I refused to accept that–I would never worship my
husband as the church worshipped Jesus, and didn’t think having a
willy justified the overturning of my own decisions–particularly if
my decision was better. I was eventually told “well too bad, that’s
God’s will,” to which I retorted “well I’m terribly sorry but God is
wrong.”

The realization that many religious rules were written for the express
purpose of repressing me unclouded my vision regarding the church.
After the credibility of their central text collapsed it was then
really only a matter of time before the rest of my mind found peace
and sense in atheism. I was doused in religion from infancy, and a
good deal of the bullshit regarding omniscient beings reading my every
thought had already taken hold. It was hard to shake free of this
Thoughtcrime training, and led me to feeling unhinged for many years.
I’m sure many would-be rationalists have eventually caved under the
nagging sensation that Santa Claus is reading along and does not
approve of what you’re thinking. Religion is brain damage, a type of
forced schizophrenia–church leaders carefully insert another voice in
your head to constantly judge you against their bizarre rubric. A
voice which can be difficult to silence until you learn that it is not
your conscience or the voice of God–it is a result of brainwashing,
and it should be a crime.

I met with plenty of resistance on my way out of religion–from
screaming matches with my mother to physical abuse from my father to
other children shunning me for my views on evolution, women’s rights
and contraception (this was South Carolina in the 90′s, after all). I
had always been an astronomy geek, and when I pointed out in school
that the mere existence of other galaxies pretty much debunked the
whole “our group of our species on our planet was created specially by
the master of the whole universe in his image” bupkis, I discovered
just what it feels like to be alone.

Even now, getting toward twenty years later, relations with my family
are strained. I moved to London in 2009, after spending an Erasmus
year in Canterbury in 2004 and discovering just how happy and sane
secular British society is compared to where I grew up. I’m engaged to
a man who never had to fight his way out of theism, something I’ve
always envied. He wasn’t rebelling or atheistic to be cool, as there
was no familial or cultural precedent for him to rebel against. The
issue just never came up. In his company (and country) I stopped
hearing the garbage, stopped having to fight for quiet from the
hate-based tribalism that chokes rational thought and prevents peace
among cultures. When my fiancé’s aunt asked if there were any nice
halls or historic buildings in our borough for us to get married in I
felt positively dizzy with happiness–no one assumed we were going to
a church, and no one expected us to do it “just to keep up
appearances”. For the first time, here in the UK, I’m not living a
lie.

I am free and it feels wonderful.

Ms. Kristen G
England

Comments

  1. Cry4turtles says

    Ms. Kristin, I too recognized that god was not going to like me no matter what I did, because it was obvious that god didn’t like girls. I discovered this at age 5. I wondered why adults stood around and pretended that the preposterous was real. Thankfully, my mom loved to sleep in so church was a rarity, and religion was never shoved down my throat. In fact, I’d bet my dad is a closet atheist. Someday, I’m going to ask him.

  2. peterwhite says

    South Carolina in the 90′s sounds like Europe in the Dark Ages. I’m happy you broke away from the repressive culture there and found a place where you can breathe.

    I come from a family with a lot of strong willed women. I’m always appalled at the way some women are willing to be doormats. None of my sisters ever did that nor did my mother. I have 3 daughters and all of them share the same attitude. I can’t understand how any father could wish for his daughter to be treated as a lesser person than his son or himself.

  3. says

    The irony being that the UK technically is a theocracy with the Queen as the head of the Church of England. The history of religious warfare is long in the british isles and a lot of people are just sick of it. Particularly post IRA who did wonders for promoting tolerance by people simply ditching viewpoints simply to not be associated with their superdickery.

    Sometimes its easier to leave than others. The UK is luckily rather secular and at worst we have the Church of England whose attitude is more bloody mary than hail mary. Religious indoctrination exists but mainly in Islam rather than christianity.

  4. helenaconstantine says

    Unfortuantely, Unbelievably, this is exactly what thumpers mean when they say people become atheists because they want to sin. In their view this woman had a sinful desire to live outside of god’s hierarchy and denies god because it is convenient for her to do so.

  5. louis14 says

    Good essay – thanks Kristen.

    I grew up in the UK and, like your fiancée, have never had to fight the religious intolerance that you did – for which I am very grateful. I hope you have a long and happy marriage and flourish in your new home.

  6. says

    Wonderful story, wonderful writing. I also found my way to atheism through questioning the misogyny in the bible, and I guess this is why I’m contnually surprised to see toxic sexism among so-called skeptics and rationalists. Maybe no one is immune from narcissism and/or mommy issues? “Forced schizophrenia” is spot on.

  7. excrusader says

    Thanks for writing your experiences. I also struggled with feeling “second class” as an evangelical female. It was one of the catalysts to my eventual apostasy. I now cringe when I hear the double-speak used to justify the rampant sexism of the bible. Talk about brainwashing…

  8. mirax says

    I totally respect you for fighting against the religious indoctrination, your family and peers. Bravo!

    Too few are willing to challenge the status quo or question ‘authority’and thus they help to make it more difficult and repressive for everyone else.

    Parts of the US sound as backward as Somalia or Afghanistan.

  9. says

    My new favorite quote: Religion is brain damage.
    Thank you Ms. Kristen G.

    From a previous comment: Parts of the US sound as backward as Somalia or Afghanistan.

    All of Idiot America is infested with idiots, but in some states the religious insanity is completely out of control, including Florida where I live and the rest of the Deep South from the east coast to Texas.

    Even up north there’s a never ending Christian war against science education. For example the Dover trial was in Pennsylvania.

    Congratulations to Ms. Kristen for escaping this insane asylum.

  10. rad_pumpkin says

    Welcome to Europe! I moved from Texas to lovely (and bitter cold) southern Germany for grad school, and the change in religious attitude is truly profound. Essentially, nobody here gives a rodent’s posterior what imaginary friend you have. While there are a ton of old xian traditions that have manifested themselves permanently here over the years, eg closed shops on Sundays (excluding of course public services, transportation, and hospitals), you won’t find any bible thumping politician, or leaders of mega churches (or mega churches for that matter), who wield tremendous political power. And I don’t recall any point in time when there was ever a serious “debate” on whether or not evolution should be taught in school. I haven’t been here that long, but I don’t think there are any mass protests at abortion clinics either. Granted, we have compulsory religious studies in school, though it is possible to switch to an atheistic ethics course. It’s really quite funny how western Europe, the old bastion of xianity, became so secular following the Enlightenment Age.

    Anyway, I’m glad everything worked out for you! I am pretty impressed how you manged to rid yourself of such a destructive, repressive, and downright stupid belief system at that age!

    I also have to ask, did you switch to that wonderful British English by now?

  11. Ciucilon says

    Lovely and moving story! Must have taken a lot of courage to liberate yourself.

    // South Carolina in the 90′s sounds like Europe in the Dark Ages. //

    I’m with the other europeans on this. It’s appaling to read over and over the insanity that goes on the other side of the Atlantic.
    Hopefully it doesn’t happen everywhere, but it’s still overwellming.

    Somehow it doesn’t compute… How can this exists in a modern society?
    Or is the modern society completely restricted to a few areas and the rest of the country has jumped in the time machine?

  12. ManOutOfTime says

    Good for you. It just goes to show you, too: the abusive imposition on children of religious thought and the cruel inner voice of judgment – writer Anne Lamont calls it “Radio KFKD: all fucked, all the time” though she is Xtian – is a horror. And this in a Presbyterian upbringing, which is supposedly relatively progressive on the Xtian spectrum of crazy.

  13. Jim Mauch says

    Shaking off belief was a good choice. I envy your strength. I have it much easier. I never had any religious beliefs in the first place and didn’t have to go through the anguish of throwing off god with his strange demands. I am not willing to accept god till people stopped with the irrational appeals and instead show me real evidence that their weird stories are true. It looks like I’m destined to live a life of disbelief. I don’t expect to witness the miracle of god producing evidence anytime soon.

  14. says

    Kudos to you for finding your own voice! Reminds me a bit of my mum, who has been coming out of fundamentalism recently due to realization how very gender biased the system is. I’m rather proud of her, rediscovering her independence after years in the church.

  15. Zugswang says

    Thanks for sharing, Kristen. It is awful that so many who have written had to deal with such pointless and widespread discrimination, but I’m really glad that so many are willing to write and share, especially for those who are currently trying to make that leap from faith, but are weighed down by seemingly omnipresent social pressure. Reading these stories will at least make it easier for many to persevere until they can break free.

  16. says

    She (he is in she) has used religion for exploitation in the name of GOD. You do not have to be an atheist for that. Religion is a business. Jesus or Budha or others never talked about religion. It is the people who made sects in their name and divided the world.
    Belief in GOD (give it any form you like)can be an anchor to deal with situations in life. If you can handle it with your own mind, then your mind is GOD. HE does not have religion

  17. Nemo says

    I was eventually told “well too bad, that’s God’s will,” to which I retorted “well I’m terribly sorry but God is wrong.”

    You go girl. This is my favorite letter yet.

  18. Psych-Oh says

    Good story! I currently live in the Southern US (raised in the Northeastern US), and I find it a bit frightening how Xianity seeps into everything here. Thanks for sharing.

  19. says

    Wonderful story, Kristen.

    My favorite part:

    “I stopped hearing the garbage, stopped having to fight for quiet from the hate-based tribalism that chokes rational thought and prevents peace among cultures.”

    My wife and I chose a great-looking Anglican church in which to get married. (We had to attend services three times for it to be allowed.) But the architecture was just what we wanted. The thing is, with the fracturing of the Anglican church in Canada, that church may end up being used for secular purposes anyway.

  20. Jarred C says

    Re: Filing for divorce

    My wife and I have an agreement that if either of us turns religious, then it’s acceptable grounds for divorce with the remaining non-religious person having first pick of everything.

  21. mitchelllee says

    Kristen,

    Obviously your husband cheated your parents out of 50 shekels of silver. I’m sure this is what they’re angry about. If some man raped and abducted my daughter without coughing up the price of a cow, I’d be pissed!

  22. mirax says

    I was at first intensely irritated by the vacuous bullshit spouted by Menon in #20. It is condescending nonsense but it is also very reminiscent of how Hindus and other non-semitic religions deal with non-belief. They spout this kind of babble,and wave you off airily. It’s hard to have a constructive argument with such airheads but on the other hand they are not burning down your house either.

  23. says

    That was great — refreshing, even. I give the writer tremendous credit for stating this in such a clear, no-nonsense manner. And I wish her luck in her new life. She deserves it!

  24. raven says

    I was eventually told “well too bad, that’s God’s will,” to which I retorted “well I’m terribly sorry but God is wrong.”

    Good answer.

    The xian god doesn’t exist anyway. It’s a fictional character in an old book of fairy tales.

    You can tell it was written by men for men. A lot of the NT misogyny is in the Pauline letters. Roughly half of those letters were forged long after Paul died by unknown authors.

    A lot of the misogyny and female servitude is either in the forged letters or can be traced as additions or revisions to the original letters.

    A lot of northern Protestant churches don’t seem to have the sexism of the US southern churches which are mostly schismatics left over from the civil war. I only really know one minister these days. She is a very intelligent and popular leader of a medium size moderate church. Quite a few Protestant sects have been ordaining women for decades.

  25. JBlilie says

    Brilliant. Thanks very much for sharing your story. My sense of the UK (and most of the rest of Europe) matches your experiences.

  26. says

    rad_pumpkin,

    while the role of religion has been greatly reduced in German society, unfortunately a large number of privileges still persist. Also I’m not sure which one of the two southern states you moved to, but especially Bavaria is known as the equivalent of Texas in Germany, including a conservative, religious attitude, and a sense of “in Bayern gehen die Uhren anders”, and it is a bastion of Catholicism. Next door, in BaWü, things are a bit better, but it still quite conservative, with a strong Pietist bent instead of Catholic.

    The privileges of the two state churches are still strong:

    - Sunday closure laws, but also don’t forget the dancing prohibitions on certain holidays. If you’re in the South, this is why the Halloween Party you might be attending will have to end at 3am (BW) or midnight (Bav) because Nov 1 is such a holiday.
    - the salary of archbishops is paid by the state
    - the churches have supervision about theology departments in the public universities which educate theologians AND religious studies teachers. Supervision not only means influence on curricula etc, but also they can have tenured professors and teachers fired from state institutions
    - churches are allowed to discriminate against employees based on religious factors, such as belonging to the wrong religious group, or not following the religious dogmas, i.e. Catholic nurses getting a divorce etc. This is important because the two churches run a lot of kindergartens, schools, hospitals and senior homes, with state subsidies
    - if you’re a member of a state church, the church tax is collected by the state on behalf on the churches. (The state is compensated but with far less than the actual costs that are incurred.)
    - there are various tax exemptions, like on property taxes
    - military chaplains are paid by the state

    I could give you a number of anecdotes, but that’ll make the post far too long

  27. says

    oh sorry. Technically, the might not be able to get tenured teachers and professors fired, just prevent them from teaching R.E. or theology. But IANAL

  28. CJO says

    #20:
    Religion is a business. Jesus or Budha or others never talked about religion. It is the people who made sects in their name and divided the world.

    We have no idea what Jesus talked about, if he talked about anything. The Jesus of the gospels is a mouthpiece figure for the authors of the texts, who appear to have been interested precisely in making sects in Jesus’ name. That fictional character talks about religion almost exclusively.

  29. Clare says

    We’re glad to have you over here Kristen and so very glad that you’re enjoying life in the UK. Best wishes to you both.

  30. niftyatheist says

    In a field of excellent essays, this one is a standout!

    Brava, Kristen. Something about your story speaks to me personally, even though my own experience was quite different. Perhaps it is our mutual experience of once having been girls who questioned the accepted religious mores and felt the pain of ostracism because of that.

    Where you persisted bravely and fought your way out at a relatively young age, I withdrew more deeply into religion (hoping to make changes from within) and did not escape finally until my forties.

    Your writing is exceptionally graceful, as well. Beautiful essay.

  31. says

    #26 Mirax – When I read your response, I re visited, what I wrote. I appreciate your interpretation. My communication could have been better. It looks like I am criticising Kirsten. Oh, No. I have an admiration for her for being an individual who chucked all the borrowed belif system and adapted her own. This is what many of us have failed to do in our life.
    Generally, people use the word ‘he’, as if Man is the representative of human being and ignore the woman. It has been ‘chairman’ though they say chair person, now never a chair woman.
    I began the sentence with She (since he is in she) to represent man kind. What I meant was since human being have exploited us in the name of religion…
    It is a communicaton error on my part. I have no faith in any religion but I feel there is a superior energy in the universe and we are subset of that energy because it helps but I do not have to bother if I do not want.

  32. rad_pumpkin says

    @Pelanum
    I do in fact reside in Munich, but believe me, it’s nowhere near Texas levels here.
    I am pretty much aware of all of your points, and while I absolutely agree that they are archaic nonsense that has no place in the 21st (or any for that matter) century, I can begrudgingly live with most of them. I did attend a catholic kindergarten in Germany as a child, which didn’t go over too well one occasion as I, according to family anyway, made it a point to correct the head nun/instructor that it was in fact the big bang that brought our universe about (thanks for the lessons, grandpa!). I do not recall ever praying, or learning about Jeebus, or how only Jeebus could save me from the filthy mess of sin and corruption that was four year old me. It was not an oppressive environment, nor a religious one. Granted, it has been almost two decades, so my memory may be a bit fuzzy. At any rate, religiously run institutions that offer public services should not exist on principle. If you want to destroy your precious brain cells, become a meth addict or go to church, whichever one is cheaper in your area. But please don’t let the same people run anything that is in the interest of the general public…

    Oh yeah, I didn’t know about those no-dance laws. I’m going to make it a point to get drunk off my ass and dance around my apartment like a maniac on the first! Thank you, catholic church! Your imbecilic nonsense and archaic prohibitions are fostering my burgeoning alcoholism quite nicely…

  33. treefrog says

    I’d like to know why, in a group of two people, there needs to be a leader. My cousins’ wedding vows all made this very clear, and it just blew my mind.

  34. says

    @rad_pumpkin,

    my experiences are different. The only time I briefly prayed to Jeebus was when I was attending a Lutheran kindergarten (which also doubled as after-school daycare during elementary school). They took pains not to mention religion on the kindergarten grounds, but across the street there was a Lutheran youth centre that was affiliated with the kindergarten. I’m still angry at them.

    Oh, I know Texas, I’ve spent some years there, so I know it’s nothing compared to how things are like over there. But still, for all the progress European societies have made, those remaining privileges are a disgrace.

    And you’re lucky that Munich IS the most liberal place in Bavaria. I know an openly gay professor at a university outside of Munich, and he was once summoned to the university president and chastised for participating in activities of gay student clubs. The president said something like “you can do that in Berlin/Hamburg/Cologne/insert appropriate big city outside of Bavaria, but not here. The archbishop doesn’t look kindly upon such activities”, said the president of a state university.

  35. says

    to make it clearer

    They took pains not to mention religion on the kindergarten grounds, but across the street there was a Lutheran youth centre that was affiliated with the kindergarten, where they sometimes took us for religious indoctrination.

  36. rad_pumpkin says

    @Pelamun (sorry, misspelled your name earlier)

    I grew up in NRW, where I attended kindergarten. I got through half of first grade, where there was some catholic class (that was actually the first time I saw a popular picture of jeebus, even then I wondered why he looked like a white hippie – not in those exact words though) I had to take, before moving to Bavaria. I also had catholic class there, and there was a great deal of preparation for the first communion, also in school. Upon reflection, it was actually quite heavily religious. It wasn’t a fundamentalist upbringing – I had science and math alongside with religion after all – but more of a reinforcement of the local culture. We are Bavarians, we are xian, eat disgusting sausages, eat even more disgusting mustard, and drink heavily. Fall in line, damnit!
    I’m curious, where did you grow up?

    I’d hate to imagine that the archbishop has any say in what goes on in my department. What the hell should I care about the personal life of a professor, unless I happen to be involved in it in some way? Or is the church suddenly THE world authority on theoretical chemistry? Fuck them. A worse thought yet, what if some archbishop had his say in the Texas department of education? Shit, the stone age would look absolutely modern and appealing next to the inevitably disaster that would be…

    Reading your posts, and remembering my own upbringing, I am honestly that much more impressed with Kristen’s story. It seems neither of us left an environment of significant oppression, or indoctrination. Leaving the stupidity of religion behind was easy for me, in no small part because my family did not object. Now leaving in spite of that…now that takes some guts.

  37. says

    rad_pumpkin,

    no worries. I can tell you the exact location, but maybe by email ;) (the closest I’ve come to revealing it publicly was ‘in one of those states that allows public dancing on Christmas Eve’).

    Well I do think the situation in Texas is worse than an archbishop exerting pressure on a president. If you follow Texas politics, you might remember the fight for control over the Texas Board of Education. Some fundamentalist dentist I think lost his seat last time, which was hailed as a great success by pro-science groups. Even in Bavaria, that wouldn’t happen.

    And my professor friend was tenured, although he was initially shocked, there were no repercussions, he is still involved in a wide range of progressive activities. Also, presidents come and go, they’re usually just professors elevated to that status for a number of years, unlike in the US. So it’s more important for academic success that you can cooperate with your colleagues in the same school of Humanities/Science or whatever and get grant money from outside institutions. And on that front, he seems to be doing fine.

  38. rad_pumpkin says

    @Pelamun

    I just started reading your blog. Great work, I’ll try to get through as much as possible before tomorrow!

    The Texas school board of education debacle was important in more ways than one. Sure, having loonies dictate what gets taught in Texas schools is bad for the state, but there’s an even bigger problem: because Texas has such a large population, it basically sets the text book standards for half the country. The publishers want the books to be profitable after all, so they orient the content according to the largest buyer, Texas. Getting that idiot his ilk off the board was not a victory for pro-science groups or anybody in particular, but for the whole next generation of school attendees. I mean where does whitewashing of history end, though one might say there’s already plenty of that in schools over there?

    I’m quite glad your friend got that mess cleared up. And I’m equally glad he didn’t compromise his positions just because it might upset some bloke in a strange costume and/or the university’s president. It looks like I still have a lot to learn about the German university system…

  39. Alverant says

    Kristen, congrats on the upcoming wedding. I wish you a happy life with your new in-laws. It looks like your future children (if you decide to have any) will have an easier time than you did.

  40. Jack Krebs says

    Nice – I especially like the part about her simple, clear retort that “God is wrong.”

  41. echidna says

    “God is wrong” is a perfectly reasonable statement. He was described as being wrong many times in the bible, especially in Genesis (where he had trouble figuring out what would be a suitable mate for Adam was), as well as Noah (sorry about the flood, chaps, here’s a rainbow).

    The only excuse for him is that gods are fictional.

  42. Jeffrey P says

    Hello, Kristen. I am so sorry you had a negative experience with the Presbyterian Church as a child. It appears a lot of your dialogue, however, comes from an abusive father, or perhaps seeing your own mother cop unfair and oppressive treatment from a bullying and over-controlling husband (your father)?

    In that type of environment, of course you would see the picture of ‘Abba Father’, that was preached from the pulpit as someone who ‘punished’. You would see the Jesus who loved children, and who did not fight back but deliberately allowed people to kill him because of his utter love for humanity, in the same light as you saw your father.

    I was a Presbyterian. I came from a background where my father had Schizophrenia and was abusive. I am a married man now. I still believe in a loving Father God, and have developed a strong friendship with Him. I have dealt with the issues of control, violence, anger and have realized that my own father was NOT the reflection of God as God wishes to be known.

    God IS a loving Creator, even if your father wasn’t. He CARES even when you have had relationship breakdowns. He desires to enter into your life and comfort you emotionally when you hurt. The boundaries that he gives us is not to harm us but to ENRICH us.

    By the way, I have gone out of my way to be the best husband and father I can be BECAUSE I know that Jesus loved me and sacrificed everything for me. I am not perfect, but I DO try to nourish and cherish my wife. I have done this DESPITE my poor role model that my violent, angry and abusive father was.

  43. says

    @49 Jeffrey P:

    Here is the nicest response you’re going to get…

    -

    Remember, Eve (in your book) was an afterthought. Also, Revelation mentions that Jesus will rule New Jerusalem with 144,000 Jewish Male Virgins and will let in a few Nation Kings every now and then. Sounds women-friendly, don’t it? Sounds a lot like the Vatican.

    -

    Lastly, if you’re not a good husband because it is the right thing to be, then you need to read more Ingersoll.

  44. Jeffrey P says

    Thomas, Eve is NEVER an afterthought. The mother of humanity, she takes prominence in the story of Genesis. In fact, women take a tremendous role in my book. For example, read about Deborah, Esther, Ruth, Priscilla, Mary the mother of Jesus, and so many more women who made a difference within their society. Paul actually spoke of women in a Greek and Roman culture that regarded women as worthless slaves and mere objects. You need to differentiate cultural anthropology from Biblical exegesis.

    You obviously have heard a lot of hearsay, and read lots of academic skeptics who don’t know what they are talking about.

  45. Jeffrey P says

    To Thomas lawson regarding ‘the right thing to be’. Without a Higher Being who ultimately has created natural laws, everything is subjective, so by which standard of ‘right’ can people refer. Without a Higher Being, this is a subjective opinion.

  46. raven says

    Without a Higher Being who ultimately has created natural laws, everything is subjective, so by which standard of ‘right’ can people refer. Without a Higher Being, this is a subjective opinion.

    With a higher being it still is subjective.

    The god of the bible is OK with polygamy, murder, genocide, slavery, female subjugation, and so on. You can sell your kids as sex slaves for a few bucks as it says in Exodus, stone your disobedient kids to death, along with heretics, atheists, witches, adulterers, false prophets, and sabbath breakers.

    We modern humans have simply said, the old (fictional) Sky Monster god was wrong.

    The bible isn’t a source of morality. Anyone living a biblical lifestyle today would be doing multiple life sentences in prison. Warren Jeffs of the FLDS did exactly that and got life + 20 years.

    You obviously have heard a lot of hearsay, and read lots of academic skeptics who don’t know what they are talking about.

    Pretty lame there, an assertion without proof and worthless. Most of us are ex-xians and have read the bible and the scholars in far greater depth than the vast majority of xians. Most sects make a point of cherry picking and quote mining the bible and hope no one ever actually reads it. It’s a proven way to end up ex-xians.

  47. echidna says

    Jeffrey P:

    Thomas, Eve is NEVER an afterthought… hearsay…skeptics who don’t know what they are talking about

    Rubbish. No need to read anything other than Genesis 2 to support Thomas. It tells the story that everything was made, Adam ensconced in the garden, banned from the tree of knowledge and all, and God is showing him all the animals to find a suitable helper. Then, only after everything else is done, does he make Eve. Eve is not part of the original plan, but very clearly an afterthought.

  48. raven says

    Thomas, Eve is NEVER an afterthought. The mother of humanity, she takes prominence in the story of Genesis.

    Yeah right. As the villain, the bad person.

    Eve is blamed for them getting kicked out of Eden, original sin, and the entire earth’s biosphere running down due to the Second Law of Thermodynamics by most xian sects, especially the fundie xians.

    Have you ever had any contact with reality? That you remember anyway?

  49. echidna says

    Raven,

    Most of us are ex-xians and have read the bible and the scholars in far greater depth than the vast majority of xians….It’s a proven way to end up ex-xians.

    My story exactly. Atheist by research.

  50. raven says

    Even though they grow weary and wear themselves out with child-bearing, it does not matter; let them go on bearing children till they die, that is what they are there for.
    Martin Luther, Works 20.84

    God created Adam master and lord of living creatures, but Eve spoilt all, when she persuaded him to set himself above God’s will. ‘Tis you women, with your tricks and artifices, that lead men into error.

    No gown worse becomes a woman than the desire to be wise.

    The xian churches have been and some still are misogynistic. Martin Luther, the founder (and all around crackpot) of Protestantism didn’t think much of them. The Catholic church is no better.

  51. Jeffrey P says

    Hi, raven. Quotes that reinforce cultural anthropology only. What is reality? Can you find it in a laboratory? Can you truly evaluate the positive effects of religion from a lab coat?

    Can you truly paint EITHER men and women in terms or perfection? X-ians know nobody is perfect, and can work with that. I call THAT reality.

  52. raven says

    Can you truly evaluate the positive effects of religion from a lab coat?

    Yeah, we can. We simply count, survey, and measure.

    Statistically, xians are no better than anyone else.

    The fundie xians are worse than the general population. They score low in intelligence and education. High in social problems including abortion, child sexual abuse, alcoholism, and teen age pregnancy.

  53. Jeffrey P says

    To raven. So true, scientists aren’t God. CHRIST-ians aren’t God. From which country did you get the demographics into Christians? If you look at Christians, they often come from a middle to upper-class demograhic background with a higher education. WHich is a shame, because it means we aren’t doing our work properly. Our founder, Jesus, wanted us to get to the lower soio-economic backgrounds to create a difference. We were doing so well for a while – created the first schools, university, hospital, alcohol rehabilitation centre, employment agency. We Christians were really going for it. But then … postmodernism and evolutionary teaching decided to poison the minds of our young people. Eventually, the whole Christian Church was affected. This saddens me.

  54. dianegram says

    Beautifully written, strongly shared. Thanks, Kristin. Happy for you that you found your place to be. I dropped out when the RC priests tried to shove transubstantiation down my unwilling throat. I was all, “Who are these people???” Luckily my parents were not all that interested in organized religion. Happiness to you and yours.

  55. echidna says

    Jeffrey P

    What is reality?

    Seriously? You are talking to a bunch of people who stopped believing in deities, and found that they were never there to start off with. This post is by someone who realised very early on that the stuff that the church was telling her was downright wrong. You are being ridiculous, rude, and strangely off-topic with your silly empty rhetoric.

    Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.

    Philip K. Dick, “How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later”, 1978

  56. says

    Kristen G., nice going! It’s a joy to hear that you were a strong-minded feminist even as a girl.

    I decided to stop going to church right after I heard church leaders saying that women would never be allowed to become clergy or take positions of leadership. If they didn’t need me, I didn’t need them.

    Jeff P., I applaud your decision to be a better father than your father was. It motivates a lot of fathers I know. Your opinion of your imaginary friend is not really relevant in a discussion of atheists. For god’s sake, man, grow up and leave Santa Claus behind!

  57. Jeffrey P says

    Hi, Monado, thanks for your praise about father. Regarding Atheists, I prefer a gnostic because atheists can never prove that there is no God. Regarding women as church leaders, nearly ALL denominations have female church leaders. Finally, the pun about Santa Clause, for heaven’s sake realise we celebrate a real person- St Nicholas, who lived in 400ACE and was known to be extremely generous in his ministry to the poor. He lived in a place called Myra. Jesus was a historical figure too.
    Thanks for letting me enter your tea party, Atheists.
    :-)

  58. Jeffrey P says

    Hi Echidna, a fellow Aussie! I 100% agree with your quote, mate..

    Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.

    Close your eyes, Atheists. God won’t go away. Reality bites.

  59. echidna says

    Finally, the pun about Santa Clause, for heaven’s sake realise we celebrate a real person- St Nicholas, who lived in 400ACE and was known to be extremely generous in his ministry to the poor.

    No, we really don’t. We celebrate the northern hemisphere Winter Solstice, co-opted by the church in the thirteenth century. St. Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 6, not Christmas, co-opting older, pagan rituals still visible in the KrampusseLaufe. Washington Irving wove this into his fabrication of a European Santa Claus tradition, just as he fabricated a lot of things that Americans now believe.

    As for what we “know” about St. Nick, we know nothing. There is no historical evidence for him, only legends.

    Thanks for letting me enter your tea party, Atheists.

    Now you’re just being insulting.

  60. says

    Yes, I know the story of St. Nicholas of Myra and the dowries for poor women so that they could marry (legendary act of kindness; therefore, God). But he’s not the Santa Claus of popular culture.

    Santa, with his rewards and punishments, has become a sort of apprentice God; and God himself is a father writ large, handing out rewards and punishments and keeping adults in childish thrall to their mental image of him, obeying his ‘interpreters’ and paying them to live soft. Do you not see that they are the same kind of fictional character?

    I don’t have to prove the non-existence of leprechauns, either. I’m just satisfied that there is no credible evidence for them.

  61. Erp says

    @65 Regarding women as church leaders, nearly ALL denominations have female church leaders.

    However the vast majority of Christians are in denominations that only have male ministers (Catholic, Orthodox, in the US Mormons and Southern Baptist [the last did have women ministers for a time but are backtracking from that]). In the US and Western Europe many mainline Protestant denominations do have women ministers (though the Church of England still hasn’t approved women bishops [the US equivalent, the Episcopal church did so a couple of decades ago and the current presiding bishop is female]). Pentecostal churches often have women leaders (though often have other problems).

  62. echidna says

    I 100% agree with your quote, mate.

    I’m not your mate, in any sense. If you are really an aussie, you would know that you don’t know enough about me to call me mate.

  63. scifi says

    Jeffrey P

    I admire your bravery in coming here to, hopefully, engage in something more meaningful than biblical quotes to ‘prove’ god.

    However, you’re not off to a good start with the “can’t prove god doesn’t exist’ canard.

    History is also rife with the theft of pagan ritual by Christianity. The 2 biggest events, Xmas and Easter are blatant proof of this.

    Much like the rest of religion – flat out fake or simply hijacked.

    And “Close your eyes, Atheists?” – is that a request or an accusation? Either way it shows you have nothing but empty rhetoric – atheists tend to be significantly more ‘open-eyed’ than religionists.

  64. scifi says

    Damn – side tracked by the godbots.

    Kristen – good on you. Articulate and emotive.

    I can’t imagine what it must be like to be surrounded by all that misogynistic guff and have to fight your way out the way you did.

    Religion has a lot to answer for when it comes to gender inequality through the ages.

  65. says

    Jeff P.: See the many comments above. I concur.

    -

    Again, Kristen, great job, hope you enjoy living in an actual Christian nation, where the mixture of church and state has nearly turned half its citizens into nonbelievers. If only Atheists had never formed the ACLU, perhaps the States would have mixed church and state long ago and duplicated Britain’s results.

    -

    Good night, all. Looking forward to tomorrow’s entry.

  66. Warrior of the Truth says

    I don’t understand how someone can believe an infallible, powerful “God”, when the Word of God (eg. The Bible) contradicts itself and is therefore fallible.

    Example:

    “God is seen and heard” – Ex 33:23/ Ex 33:11/ Gen 3:9,10/ Gen 32:30/ Is 6:1/Ex 24:9-11

    “God is invisible and cannot be heard” – John 1:18/ John 5:37/ Ex 33:20/ 1 Tim 6:16

    Other parts of the bible speak and condone actions, which even to the most devout priest would find unreasonable and wrong – yet they keep on believing.

    Example:

    “Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock. Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it. Put the entire town to the torch as a burnt offering to the LORD your God. That town must remain a ruin forever; it may never be rebuilt. Keep none of the plunder that has been set apart for destruction. Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger and be merciful to you. He will have compassion on you and make you a great nation, just as he solemnly promised your ancestors. “The LORD your God will be merciful only if you obey him and keep all the commands I am giving you today, doing what is pleasing to him.” ” – (Deuteronomy 13:13-19 NLT)

    What are your thoughts of this, Jeffery P?

  67. reason says

    Jeffrey P.
    You sounded half reasonable until post #61 where you completely lost it. Full of nonsense:
    “If you look at Christians, they often come from a middle to upper-class demograhic background with a higher education. ”

    ????

    The post directly before yours:
    “Statistically, xians are no better than anyone else.

    The fundie xians are worse than the general population. They score low in intelligence and education. ”

    Then

    “But then … postmodernism and evolutionary teaching decided to poison the minds of our young people. Eventually, the whole Christian Church was affected.”

    wtf??

  68. reason says

    I’m not sure what you are trying to say in #65
    “Regarding Atheists, I prefer agnostic because atheists can never prove that there is no God. ”

    If I said, “I prefer agnostic because Christians can never prove there is a God” would you think that something sensible to say. So we are all agnostic? As has often been said here athiest just is the opposite of thiest (somehow who believes in God) i.e. someone who doesn’t believe in God.

  69. Samantha Vimes, Chalkboard Monitor says

    Is it too soon to offer the smug and condescending theist a porcupine? Jeffrey, no one but the voices in your head has claimed men or women are perfect, or even perfectible. The difference is, atheists think you should figure out what’s important to be better at and try harder. Christians believe that the answer to imperfection lies in grovelling for forgiveness to their Creator for creating them to be imperfect.

    Kristen, thank you for showing how important self-respect is.

  70. echidna says

    Kristen, thank you for showing how important self-respect is.

    And might I add, even at a very young age. Your story is inspiring – showing how important it is to encourage even the youngest children to feel confident in their reasoning, and that contradictions indicate that something is wrong.

  71. Jeffrey P says

    Hello all atheists who try to prove to themselves there is no god, where the likelihood of a Creator that created this order we see is much higher than the thought that the universe just randomly came together. Where the likelihood of a historical Jesus (as well as a historical Nicholas that lived around 400CE ) is very high when exploring such works as Tacitus and Josephus. Where we find that atheists would rather attempt to ‘work out their own way’ in the universe than say that a loving God exists that created us to develop a friendship with Him. Where doing right is according to one’s own determination, rather than admit they could be capable of doing right as a result of being ‘created in the image of a loving God. I often feel sorry for atheists who believe there is no god. They have nothing but their own intellect. They do not admit there is a God whi can provide a comfort to them when there is no-one else. They believe that the world exists only to ‘eat and drink for tomorrow we die’. Who spend the time looking for inconsistencies in the lives of ‘theists’ or want to blame them AND God for every evil that happens in the world…

    For me, the benefits for being a theist far outweighs the benefits of abandoning a commitment to a loving Creator, no matter how many times a fellow Christian may show slight imperfections that bug me.

  72. Miki Z says

    I see that for you, Jeffrey P, the benefits of being a theist also far outweigh the benefits of awareness, critical thought, and keeping your question-begging to yourself.

  73. Simon Blake says

    “other children shunning me for my views on evolution, women’s rights and contraception (this was South Carolina in the 90′s, after all”

    I find the resigned acceptance implicit in this terrifying. South Carolina in the 90s? The EIGHTEEN nineties, right? No.

    It’s so easy for us in the UK to think of the USA as basically like us but with a different accent. Even being told that the US is way more religious doesn’t really make you FEEL the difference.

    But when someone writes so well, and so articulately, but throws in not as a main point but as a trivial aside that being ostracised for being educated is what you *expect* – I got chills.

    Thanks for the story.

  74. echidna says

    For me, the benefits for being a theist far outweighs the benefits of abandoning a commitment to a loving Creator, no matter how many times a fellow Christian may show slight imperfections that bug me.

    Like institutionalised protection of pedophiles.

    Idiot.

  75. Twist says

    I kept finding lines telling me that I was
    inferior to men, that I should submit to their instructions and
    desires, that I should accept and learn from my father’s or my
    husband’s punishments, like a child should from its parents and a
    slave should from its master.

    Maybe if Jeff had had his own inferiority shoved down his throat his whole life he might feel differently. It’s easy to be supportive of something fucked up when the fuck ups automatically mean that you are the one in charge, by virtue of having a penis.

  76. reason says

    JP #82

    I take it you don’t come here often. You really haven’t a clue about what the people here think. And you clearly don’t understand probability, but that is very human, most people don’t.

  77. KG says

    Jeffrey P,

    You’re an ignorant idiot – in other words, a typical proselytising Christian. Very few atheists claim to be able to prove there is no god, any more than we think we can prove there are no leprechauns; there is simply no evidence for either, and there is immensely strong evidence that this world was not produced by a beneficent creator. There is no evidence outside the Bible (which is full of vileness, contradictions and absurdities) that Jesus was a real person, let alone a divinity. The only extra-Biblical references to him have either been tampered with by Christian forgers and liars (Josephus), or refer only to the existence of first-century Christians (Tacitus), which no-one disputes.

    Where we find that atheists would rather attempt to ‘work out their own way’ in the universe than say that a loving God exists that created us to develop a friendship with Him.

    This “loving God” of the NT repeatedly threatens to torture with everlasting fire anyone who rejects their “love”. That’s the “love” of an abusive parent or spouse, infinitely magnified. Why do you worship such evil, Jeffrey P? If it’s from fear, I can sympathise – but there is, fortunately, no evidence that the evil you worship is anything other than entirely imaginary. If it is from any other motive, you are a contemptible excuse for a human being.

    postmodernism and evolutionary teaching decided to poison the minds of our young people.

    That’s some serious stupidity right there. The reality of evolution is no more in doubt than the fact that the Earth is approximately spherical. Evolutionary theory has nothing whatever to do with postmodernism, nor does the latter have any connection with atheism. It’s an infallible mark of an idiot to lump together disparate views simply becuase one dislikes them.

  78. KG says

    Tsk. Blockquote fail. The following should be blockquoted in #91.

    Where we find that atheists would rather attempt to ‘work out their own way’ in the universe than say that a loving God exists that created us to develop a friendship with Him.

  79. KG says

    Tsk again, idiot Jeffrey P has distracted me from thanking Kristen G. for this inspiring – and amusing – account, welcoming her to Britain (do take a tour round the non-English parts if you haven’t yet done so Kristen!), and wishing her and future husband all the best.

  80. says

    JP aside, this was a wonderful article. Well written, and hard- hitting. I’m really starting to like these.

    I also like the comments here. It has been about 8 months since I have realized that I am probably going to move away from the US. I have been a little apprehensive, yet it seems that those who have do not regret it. I do, in theory, love my country. A good friend told me that if I leave I can’t really do much to help the situation. But…

    New Zealand is too fucking pretty for me to worry about this. US can have all the bull shit it wants. I’m going to go play rugby and go sailing and all that jazz.

  81. raven says

    JP the idiot troll:

    For me, the benefits for being a theist far outweighs the benefits of abandoning a commitment to a loving Creator

    What loving creator? It doesn’t exist. It certainly isn’t the god of the bible who is a Sky Monster.

    jp lying:

    no matter how many times a fellow Christian may show slight imperfections that bug me.

    It never takes them long to start lying. It’s all they have along with hate and hypocrisy.

    Slight perfections? Oh really? I’ve been getting death threats from fundie xians for over a decade. Many scientists get them. On a good day PZ Myers can get 100.death.threats.a.day. They occasionally carry them out by assassinating MD’s mostly.

    Xian terrorism has been a problem in the USA for decades.

    The fundies are always trying to sneak their mythology into our science classes, their brand of defective religion into public schools illegally. They also openly hate the USA and want to destroy it. They say so often.

    They’ve had considerable success. The weak point of the USA is the economy and Bush the fundie president caused enough damage that it will take until 2018 (Fed. Reserve est.) to recover.

    It was fundie xians that convinced me to take a hard look and leave xianity. It’s happening to 1-2 million people per year leaving.

    JP is just a troll godbot. Not very bright, no reasons, no knowledge, lots of god babble and lies.

  82. CJO says

    KG:
    The only extra-Biblical references to him have either been tampered with by Christian forgers and liars (Josephus), or refer only to the existence of first-century Christians (Tacitus), which no-one disputes.

    Right. And even if we were to allow that there could have been some genuine reference to Jesus in Josephus before the forgers and liars got their hands on it, it still wouldn’t be evidence for anything but the existence of a narrative that Josephus reports a sketch of uncritically. I don’t know why they do this, bring up Josephus and Tacitus before anyone has even questioned the historical evidence. It’s like bait on a false trail or something.

    A hint, Jeffrey: you’re defending the idea of an invisible, all-powerful cosmic overlord and a magic book, not the mere existence of a particular fanatical rabbi. There have been plenty of fanatical rabbis, that’s not in question. But that doesn’t do a damn thing for the nonsense you’re actually trying to peddle.

  83. Celeste says

    Kristen, this was a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it with us. I hope you have many more years of atheist bliss with your new husband.

  84. Jeffrey P says

    Celeste said an atheist marriage will lead to bliss. This is impossible due to inability for atheists to love in the way God wants them to. Only the Bible talks about ‘agape’ love, which is a sacrificial love despite how you feel at the time. Atheists only know love based on ‘it feels good’ or ‘as long as I am getting something out of the relationship, I will stay.’ This is based on only feelings and ‘what is right for me’ at any given moment.
    Celeste, a lifelong marriage cannot be based on this ‘atheist bliss’. Only ‘agape’bliss’, based on a Biblical view of commitment, sacrificial love, and wanting the
    best for your partner in the long term can do this.
    Sadly, 50% of Christians do not get this, and live their
    lives based on secular and Atheist values, leading to pain, divorce and children with only one parent.
    I would prefer to wish Kristen ‘agape bliss’, NOT ‘atheist bliss.’

  85. Jeffrey P says

    One last comment, Kristen. I have been praying for you and believe that God wants me to share something with you. He did not approve of the abuse you received at the hand of your father. He saw you as that little girl cry

  86. echidna says

    Jeffrey P, you are ignorant and delusional. Do you seriously believe that atheists are restricted in their ability to love? You seem to think that only Christians are fully human – this is warped thinking, that leads to witchhunts, pogroms and massacres.

    You are a shining example of why atheists reject religion.

  87. Jeffrey P says

    I pressed the wrong button. Kristen, God saw the pain you received at the hands of your father as a child. He heard the questions you silently spoke as a 13 year old. He saw what you saw as your mother was silently enduring. He was watching you with loving eyes and wants to tell you that choices your parents made need not keep you away from His love. He has ALWAYS loved you and continues to do so. Despite the decisions you make now, He will be with you. When you are ready, He will be there to comfort you.

    [GODBOTTING. Banned. Don't come back, asshole. --pzm]

  88. echidna says

    Jeffrey P,
    God is an echo of your own thoughts. “God wants” is the same as “I want” – but the concept of God means that you are discouraged from questioning your own beliefs. There is no reality check.

    God saw the abuse? Did not approve? And still did nothing? It’s like watching a three-year-old hit a baby, and the adult in the room watches and does not intervene. After all, if your god is real, then the consequences are an eternity of hell for the little girl because her father misled her into rejecting religion.

    The only excuse for God’s behaviour is if he doesn’t exist.

  89. Ben Dyball says

    Jeffrey P is a friend of mine on facebook. I went to school with him. He makes a lot of comments on my wall. I allow this as his rhetoric lends weight to my position. Right now he just became an apologist for honour murder after I posted a link to an article by Ayaan Hirsi Ali http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/ayaan-hirsi-ali/honour-killings_b_1028920.html

    Jeff was brought to this blog after I posted Kristens story on my wall.

    His ugliness works against him even although the lucky bastard did get a message from the Great PZ himself. All praise the Great Bearded One.

    Ben Dyball

  90. scifi says

    Ahh, Jeffrey.

    Don’t say you weren’t warned!!

    Isn’t it interesting that these faith-fucked imbeciles try sooooo hard to engage with what they think is articulate rationale for the existence of their god and in very short order are reduced to the insulting, ignorant drivel that Jeffrey exhibited.

    Gotta love the power of rational thinking.

  91. Twist says

    “Sadly, 50% of Christians do not get this, and live their lives based on secular and Atheist values, leading to pain, divorce and children with only one parent.”

    Having one parent > having two parents in an abusive relationship, IMO. I use abusive here to mean any relationship where one partner believes they have the gawd-given right to dominate, punish and overrule the other, which seems to be the relationship style you are supporting here. Just because you claim to love the person you’re bullying, doesn’t mean it isn’t bullying.

    [I realise he is gone now, but people like him get to me.]

  92. says

    rad_pumpkin @45,

    thank you!

    Yes, the Texas Board of Education thing was of course important because Texas is a market leader in textbooks (and California is too liberal for many other states and probably big enough a market in its own right). I think the US dodged a bullet in that one.

    There have been German politicians advocating for the teaching of ID, the most prominent the former governor of Thuringia, Dieter Althaus (who resigned after a skiing accident). However, he was ridiculed for it, and no-one ever took it seriously on the bureaucratic level. As education is a state matter, a crackpot on the state level could cause damage, but the European habit of only electing the legislature has so far safeguarded against it.

    Lastly, about my friend: I guess the shock was because he had just started working at his uni post, still learning the lat of the land so to speak. There’s a lot of power struggles going on behind the scenes, in all these different committees. Doesn’t help that state universities are notoriously underfunded, although Bavaria might still manage to put more money into its universities than other states..

  93. icedman says

    I personally think that all the insanity to the South is just that, insane. Living on the southern border of Canada, I am proud to say that I don’t have to put up with religious politicians using the bible to push their beliefs around, though I am worried that it is contagious and will spread up from the states. Even in the small town I live in, composed mostly of what Americans would define and country hicks (and a few are) atheists are approximately equal, if not outnumber, the religious. it makes me proud!