Author Archive

My journey into and, later, out of Christianity (Introduction)

This year, I’m planning to write a series of posts about my journey into and, later, out of Christianity. I guess I should start at the beginning.

I was born into a multi-faith family. My mother was of Jewish heritage, although her father was an atheist and their family did not practice religion. My father was raised in the Catholic faith, and his mother was very devout. They went to Mass every week, said the rosary every day, and their home was filled with reminders of their faith.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve always been surrounded by friends and family members who were different than me. I never thought I was unusual in this way. Even with a start like that, I was still ignorant of the amount of diversity around me. I was six years old before I realized that not everyone was Catholic or Jewish.

I stood on the front stoop with my mother, looking down the block toward Trisha and Diane’s house. My two friends had invited me to go to Vacation Bible School with them, and since school was out for summer and I was bored, I wanted to go. My mother wasn’t so sure it was a good idea.

“It might seem strange to you,” mommy said. “They’re not Catholic…”

Continue Reading January 27, 2009 at 12:03 am 41 comments

I’m not sure I want to be called an atheist anymore

I change my mind a lot. For most of my life I have been on an involuntary spiritual journey that has led me into and out of Christianity, through explorations of Buddhism, through agnosticism and into atheism. And now I am not sure where I am heading.

This year I’ve decided that I’m not sure I want to be called an atheist anymore, even though I don’t believe in god(s). I know according to the dictionary that I am an atheist, but I’ve become disillusioned with the atheist movement, which largely seems to thrive on making fun of believers and ignoring the desire for spiritual fulfillment that most people feel.

Although I have some Christian friends in America, over the past years, I have found myself viewing all religious people as some sort of monolithic negative stereotype, hell bent on controlling everything and everyone, and teetering on the edge of insanity. I spent the summer in Lithuania where I met people from all over the world, I found that I’d made new friends who were Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical, Buddhist, agnostic, and “just spiritual.” Although we didn’t talk very much about religion, we engaged in meaningful and interesting conversations about many different topics. I found myself rethinking the stereotypes I’d come to accept, and wanting to engage more fully with people of differing backgrounds and philosophies. I want to be open to see where my own spiritual journey will take me next, and I am not willing to be pegged down by labels or stereotypes, even those of my own invention…

Continue Reading September 21, 2008 at 11:48 pm 113 comments

Why I Support Intelligent Design

I don’t have a problem with intelligent design (ID). In fact, I believed in something like intelligent design when I was a kid and it allowed me to be both a creationist (believing God created the universe) and to accept science and evolution (God set the ball rolling, set up the rules, and used evolution as a tool). Eventually this led to me dropping the creationist beliefs.

I do support ID as a philosophy because it gives fundamentalist and evangelical kids a way to accept evolution. Born-again Christian kids are going to be taught some form of creationism whether skeptics and atheists and scientists like it or not. I for one would like that to include at least a rudimentary acceptance of evolution as a concept. And since ID is basically a “God of the gaps” theory, it will eventually collapse under scrutiny by those who take the time to think, and the individual may be left with naked evolution.

Literal young earth creationism on the other hand, is part of a mindset that does not leave much of a window for thought at all, and it is a much more insidious philosophy.

I can live with people thinking that God started the evolutionary ball rolling, and even with the idea that he tinkers with it a little bit — as long as they keep their religious beliefs out of public school science classrooms, unless they actually scientifically discover verifiable evidence of God’s tinkering…

Continue Reading June 21, 2008 at 1:43 pm 47 comments

Interview with Rapture Ready! author Daniel Radosh

I’ve been surprised, actually, to read about several skeptical authors being touched in strange ways by their encounters with the evangelical Christian subculture. I’m working on a memoir about my own experiences as an evangelical Christian, and as I go back through my old diaries, Bibles and photo albums, and as I listen to recordings of old sermons and contemporary Christian music, I am surprised to find myself feeling the tug of the old faith and lifestyle. I could never go back, because I’ve learned too much about the universe, human nature, and myself, and I could never stop myself from thinking “outside the box” again. rapturereadycoverBut on an emotional level, I can still understand the appeal. Radosh touched on that appeal several times in his book, while at the same time not shrinking back from pointing out the absurdities, prejudices, and hypocrisy he encountered.

To give our readers a glimpse into the book, I asked Daniel Radosh one question from each of my favorite chapters, and a few general questions to satisfy my own curiosity…

Continue Reading May 29, 2008 at 5:34 pm 15 comments

Should we embrace moderate Christianity?

Ok, maybe not embrace, but befriend?

Recently on a whim I bought a book from the new books display at my local bookstore (what else is new, right?). The title is The Fall of the Evangelical Nation: The Surprising Crisis Inside the Church. I’m on page 53 right now, and I had to stop to think and write about something that’s been on my mind since Sam Harris’s first book came out. I’ve been thinking about it even more since I read about half of Chris Hedges’s latest while having coffee at the bookstore a few weeks ago (I decided not to buy it).

Here’s the question: Is fundamentalism the authentic religious voice?

My answer is “no”…. but I seem to be in the minority of opinion.

The media features fundamentalists or extreme conservative believers every time a topic regarding morality comes up, as if these are the only people who can speak for believers, as if they have authority to speak for all people of faith on these issues. Not only are atheists and agnostics left out of the conversation, but moderate and liberal believers often are as well. They are not taken as seriously as those who are literalist or extremist in their views, and are often considered “soft” or “lax,” as if they were not “true” followers of the faith. When journalists act this way, they are echoing the fundamentalist point of view…

Continue Reading May 12, 2008 at 11:33 pm 47 comments

My Abstinence Education

When I was 15, I fell in love with J— and with Jesus. One stole my heart, the other my soul. Neither love would last, but both haunt me to this day.

In the ‘60s, while I was jumping rope and playing hop scotch, Jesus got down off of the heavy cross at the altar of the Catholic church and turned into a cool, hippie dude who loved everyone. It was quite a change of image for a guy who’d been King of Kings and Lord of Lords for almost 2,000 years to start chumming around with the regular folks as good ole boy, JC. The Jesus Movement, started in California by hippies who got high on Jesus instead of LSD, knew Jesus not as the stern, Father-God sorting out the sinners and the saints on Judgment Day, but as an earthy, loving brother accepting all humanity with open arms.

By the time the Jesus Movement reached Long Island at the end of the decade, it had lost most of its hippie accoutrements and had become quite suburban. Its evangelists looked more like Ozzie and Harriet than like Peter, Paul, and Mary. My parents were too old to be hippies and I was too young, but both of our generations succumbed to the hippie mantras of the Jesus Movement: Peace, Love, and Joy.

The further Jesus moved from the cross, the closer he moved to my heart. From Almighty Son-of-God to Personal Savior to friend. When his sandal-shod feet finally hit the dusty ground, I was ready to fall in love with him forever…

Continue Reading April 19, 2008 at 2:00 pm 146 comments

Spirituality Without Superstition

There are many sources of spirituality; religion may be the most common, but it is by no means the only. Anything that generates a sense of awe may be a source of spirituality. Science does this in spades. — Michael Shermer, The Soul of Science

I am an atheist, a person with a naturalistic world view, free of supernatural, metaphysical, and paranormal forces. Can I understand what it means to be spiritual? Can I write about spirituality? Can I claim to be a spiritual person? I was recently challenged to think about these questions.

For many people, the word spiritual is closely tied to the concept of religion and the belief in a personified God, a father figure looking out for his children as he reigns in heaven. For others, the word spiritual brings up images of the New Age movement, séances, auras, Tarot cards, and crystal energy. Still others think of Zen Buddhism, meditation, yoga, the Tao Te Ching, and other Eastern traditions. Yes, people following these paths do consider themselves to be spiritual. But that does not mean that those of us who are skeptics and brights cannot dip into the well of spirituality to quench our own thirst for mystery and meaning.

Spirituality is not a result of belief in the supernatural. It arises naturally out of human consciousness…

Continue Reading March 29, 2008 at 12:16 am 23 comments

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Today’s Featured Link

Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.



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