1. michel says

    sorry to be off topic, but i just had to share this with you…

    here in holland, we have a social network called ‘hyves’, and channels are called errr… ‘hyves’. this morning i received a message from the moderator of the ‘iamchristian-hyve’ ( here’s my translation:

    “Hello, i’m geert, the moderator of this hyve. I’ve just banned a person (john) from this hyve. I had to make a decision whether it was fruitful to keep this person at our hyve.

    Unfortunately, I had to conclude that he had wrong views and no respect for our faith. He even called us idolaters and showed bible texts that ought to support that. Now, I don’t doubt your faith, but I can imagine that he can put doubts into people who have only recently come to the gospel. I absolutely can’t allow that, and that’s why i’ve banned him.

    I would also like you to warn me if you read something that contradicts our faith. I can then take measures. Unfortunately, sometimes I don’t have enough time to read everything people post. Thanks in advance!”

    compare that to pz’s policy for banning…

    oh yeah, scroll down the page i gave you and you can even send the moderator (geert) a message. all dutch people understand english ;)

  2. says

    Now, I don’t doubt your faith, but I can imagine that he can put doubts into people who have only recently come to the gospel. I absolutely can’t allow that, and that’s why i’ve banned him.

    That’s deplorable, although the moderator doesn’t understand why. The newer you are, the less brainwashed you are, so they do what Scientologists have been called out on and isolating the victim from any negative feedback about their cult. The religious will excuse this brainwashing tactic based on the false assumption that any derogatory remark is borne of untruths or “Satan”, and that is how the elders of the religion justify their separating the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.

    For bronze age goatherders, these guys sure knew a lot about psychology and how to abuse the powers of suggestion.

  3. Serena says

    Thanks for the update PZ. I will gladly tune in this evening to catch it live.

    Michel. That’s …disappointing and a little scary. I am not surprised though. They have to keep people believing some how. If I were a part of an organization that posted that kind of message, the warning bells would be in full swing. But some of these people believe that any dissenting opinion is the work of an evil power, so it must be shunned. That is a very scary world to live in if you ask me. I am glad I got out when I did.

    Completely off topic: Where in Holland are you? I’m in Eindhoven.

  4. michel says

    @serena: amsterdam. hope the weather in eindhoven is as marvelous as it is here!

    i’m actually a member of the ‘iamchristian’ hyve, just so i can ask questions. not to make fun of convinced christians, but to get an inside look. i’m just curious, and letting them do the talking has been quite a mental ride ;)

    about the ban: i think everyone is biased, but some just aren’t aware of their biases. and that’s where you run into situations where people are so blind they don’t even see they’re blind. you’ll find a lot of those in religion, but outside of it as well.

  5. Serena says

    Amsterdam…everybody is in amsterdam. :) Weather is fine BTW.

    The fear of outside information is what I find disturbing. Some religious people act like their faith is little more then a shaky house of cards. Any little breeze of differing opinion is enough to bring it all crashing down. And maybe it is, maybe they are the type who would gladly follow the most authorative voice.
    Which is why I think the more information available the better. The more opinions one listens to the better able they are to calmy and rationally cut through it.

    So you really get your Sunday Morning kicks from perusing the nuttyness of the Netherlands?

    I am actually anticipating a “discusion” with a local JW (or JG’s here, I think) that my mom (isn’t she thoughtful) set up for me this afternoon. I don’t know how it will go. It already hasn’t started too well. The “Elder” told me at least three times that I have to be “open minded” when I talked with them on the phone. That only made me feel a bit offended and then deffensive (I was already talking to him wasn’t I). I have a feeling that he will attempt to convince me by intimidation, as I am only a little girl and he is ….well a man I guess. So I should be submissive and demure.
    I am torn between feeling ready to fight “Bring it On!” and feeling like I would much rather just not answer the door.
    We’ll see what happens.
    My apologies for taking up so much time here off topic.

  6. michel says

    @ serena:

    wow…. that sounds really scary! it gave me goosebumps reading it. it almost sounds like a parent taking their child to the butcher… wait… isn’t that a biblical story?

    i feel really sorry for you. firstly because your mom thinks you need this kind of guidance and secondly because you probably WILL be intimidated. even i have a hard time talking with proselytizers. they know exactly how to react to critical questions, because they’re trained. and their logic is, even though fallacious, pretty inescapable.

    all i can say to you is keep an open mind. and you know what that really means. i think the chances that you will ‘win’ the discussion are very small. but the real discussion happens inside of you. you are fed with opinions and experiences and YOU are the one to turn this into a whole. let the elder do his talking. just listen to him, but discuss his message with yourself (and friends) afterwards, not with him.

    i send you my best!

  7. Serena says

    I really need all the support I can get. :)

    I’ll hold my own the best I can. I am not nearly as terrified of the organization as I used to be. I’ve been out of it for 7-8 years now, so it seems a little odd for my mom to have roped me into this “intervetion” at this point. She is always trying though. I am still intimidated. My heart races and I get all shaky in my hands and voice.
    (deep breath). It will be okay. I think in some ways it will be good for my to face them. I will be facing my childhood fears (and these people really scared me when I was young).
    They should be here soon, I was told 3:30 or 4:00. I hate waiting.
    Thanks again.

  8. michel says

    it will be a test for sure. and tests like these can be scary but good.

    it seems to me you’re more afraid of the organization itself than of their message. if that’s true, than any doubt you might feel afterwards probably has more to do with the way the message has been told than with the message itself.

    really curious to see if tomorrow you’ll come back to pharyngula to tell the atheists they’re wrong wrong wrong! ;)

  9. Serena says

    Those JW’s have been pwned!! Fuck yeah, I rock!

    I missed the begining of what sounds like a very good program. The book Kalkalios sounds very interesting.

    phew. I am still a little shaky.

  10. Andy says

    Congrats, Serena!

    Unrelated: I wish Atheist talk was a little later. I like to reap the side-benefits of being an atheist, i.e. sleeping late on Sundays. Makes life a lot easier when you choose your religion (or non-religion) by when you have to get up in the morning. I recommend it.

  11. says

    Good for you, Serena! Tell us about it?

    My brother and I asked them a few questions once and they didn’t come back to the door for a couple of years.

  12. sjburnt says

    May we Witness to you? Why, sure! Come on in! Most of these people are young, earnest, and sincere. With a little gentle questioning, they can also realize that they have serious doubts.

    As a (much) younger man we invited the JW’s into a buddy’s house and started to quiz them on the text. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to find conflicts, so we did. Great fun! Pretty soon they ‘had to meet their friends’.

    However, it is one thing when someone knocks on your door and asks to talk. To have a relative try to foist this nonsense off on you is truly warped and cruel.

    I watched my father-in-law die this weekend. He was a devout Catholic, and is the rest of his family, but I found the whole process of the last rites a truly stunning performance of chicanery.

    It makes me furious when some religious wing-nut takes advantage of people at a time of loss. The gall! Somehow, they believe this gives them special rights. And just about the time he made the pitch for money I made his way for the door.

    As I mentioned to the priest that I was not superstitious, he mentioned that he would be praying for me.

    Whoo-hoo! I thought to myself, go ahead! Talk all you want, there is no one listening.

    Then I remembered that when this boob prays, there are real people listening, and that really makes me angry!

    The good father is going to love seeing me give the eulogy.

  13. Serena says

    “Good for you, Serena! Tell us about it?”

    Sure, I was waiting to be asked. :)

    I talked to a man who brought his wife and kid (I say it that way because that is how they see it). So of course the guy did most of the talking.
    They already knew that I was an atheist from a previous conversation and had left me with one of their publications a little (less then 200pages) book entitled, “Is There a Creator Who Cares About You?”. It is not an investigative book as I’m sure the title suggests.
    I only read into the first 50 (painful) pages. A few interesting Quotes:
    “Yet, we must admit that the reason many reject the existance of a creator is that they do not ‘want’ to believe.”(emphasis on want, mine)
    Even better:
    “Likely you know examples of ‘scientific facts’ that have prevailed in the past but in time were proved totally wrong.” (” theirs)
    And again:
    “Darwin’s theory proposed how life-forms developed, but it did not explain how life began or what meaning it has for us”

    That is just in the first pages. So when they got to my appartment I had some amunition. The book also claims that Spontaneous Generation wass the only working model that scientists have to explain the origin of life. I kid you not.
    They have a quote from Pastuer, “‘Never will the doctrine of spontaneous generation recover from the mortal blow struck by this simple experiment.’ That statement remains true.” (experiment being bacteria growing in sterilised water)

    That is where they leave off with abiogenesis (a term never mentioned).
    Actually they are very clever. There are many statements that I found throughout the book that are true in and of themselves, but are very misleading in context. I made sure to point this out to them, using the spont. gen. as an example. I told them of the other work that has gone on since 1864, and that I am not sure if the author of the book was simply ignorant or actively deceptive.
    They really didn’t seem to have much to say about that. We went back an forth a few times on Scientists not knowing and then God being the explaination (of nothing!).
    The thing that I have noticed about JWs, since leaving, is that they really know absolutely nothing about science (no shit right). It was the same for this couple and I like to think that science (mainly biology) is my strong point (it is my passion). So anytime we talk about science they would change the subject or say something ridiculous.

    They then tried a different route by saying that the bible can help me live a happy happy life and that it has a lot of practical advise. I reminded them that I was still unconvinced about the exsistance of god so how could the bible mean anything more then any other book that gives sound advise (like “Poisonous Plants of South Africa” or even “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”). They mumbled something like, “Oh yeah I guess we skipped some parts…” and then continued telling me how happy I could be. This led to them saying that people who have a belief in God are happier then those that reject God. I jumped on this and said, “What makes you think I’m not happy?”
    He said, “I didn’t say that you weren’t happy”
    I said, “yes you did, You just said that people who beleive in god are happier then atheists, I’m an atheist and I’m very happy.”
    He tried to backtrack and said that he only meant generally and in his experience….blah blah blah.

    He also tried to say something about how the Isralites were more hygenic then other people at the time and how that proves that God exists and that they had the true god. I am not up on the historical accuracy of the bible, so maybe someone here can help me out with that. I only asked him if it was only possible for the Isralites to be hygenic from God’s direction and not something they could have learned on their own. He said that sure people could learn this on their own and that they did, but the Isralites did it first (before it was the ‘cool’ thing, I guess).
    What is the point of god then, if we are able to figure things out on our own?

    At this point I am annoying them. The wife has been sitting with her side to me not making eye contact and occasionally gives her husband this look that tells me she is uncomfortable and that I am hopeless. I saw the same look on my moms face when we saw a sex shop or the word “evolution” was utered on tv. I know we are almost finished.
    Last thing they say (she this time) is that the bible agrees with science a lot of the time. I blurt out, “Evolution! The bible mentions Evolution?” , “No no no, not that, the bible is very clear about that.” , “Well then it doesn’t agree then does it?”

    No it doesn’t.

    That is about it. It wasn’t so bad, though I was very nervous at first. My face was even twitching! I didn’t know I had a slight twitch. I guess I am not stressed very often.

  14. Serena says

    So, all in all this experience has left me feeling completely vindicated in my decision to leave the religion. Not that I had any doubts, but I am sure most of you here understand.

    Sorry to hear about your loss sjburnt. I am sure the funeral was a frustrating experience.

    I feel a little peeved at my Mommy. I love her dearly, she is a very loving and kind Mommy. But she gaves these people my fucking address. I don’t mind so much the phone number, but I was caught very off gaurd when on the phone he asks if he can meet me at my place at …..

    Anyways, I take out my familial frustration on other creationist wackjobs. I have two young brothers at home and I really try to set the example of the happy heathly ‘normal'(whatever that is) atheist. I don’t want to scare them so they cling to my mom and her beliefs. They can decide when they are ready and I hope I will be a part of their lives no matter what.

    Thanks for listenting to my story!

    PZ, Sorry I seem to have taken over this post! :) It is only the post, not the blog.

  15. Owlmirror says

    Last thing they say (she this time) is that the bible agrees with science a lot of the time.

    Besides evolution, another point worth raising is the age of the universe. There are multiple lines of cosmological evidence that the universe is 15 billion years old.

    And there’s also multiple lines of evidence for the age of the earth itself being 4.5 billion years old.

    Definitely not in the bible.

    Anyway, congratulations on standing up for yourself.