Epiphany

Yup, I had me one . . . an epiphany. 

No, not the manifestation of a divine being. Rather, an experience of sudden and striking realization. It came as a shock, it did.

You see, after literally stumbling on a number of stories, comments, posts dealing with religion, religion moved to my storefront, so to speak. And there, in the front window, spotlights on it, a small motor waved a plastic hand signaling for me to ‘jump in’.

Fall,

You might say I cannonballed it . . . my Religion At Its Worst post was purposefully written while I was angry (and I’m still angry when I think about it).

My radar active, I took note of other religious stuff that crossed my path. Some on Twitter, some on Facebook, and some on blogs. Politicians, celebrities, and regular people all added to the din.

One of my many problems is that I can’t ‘just ignore’ certain things. I dropped the occasional comment here and there, started discussions, participated in existing discussions.

I am 61 as I write this. Serious discussions about religion came into my life when I was 19. By serious discussions I mean people sitting around with bibles in hand, logic and reason at our sides, and the patience of Job (not Steve; the biblical Job). Interesting phrase that . . . 

. . . it refers to Job’s refusal to condemn God when Satan, doing god’s bidding, destroyed Job’s family and his livestock, essentially turning Job from a rich family man into a childless and widowed pauper overnight. But, that’s another story.

The point is that I entered into discussions with honest believers, and, verily I tell you, I myself was not many years into having accepted my lack of belief in god . . . the discussions we had were seldom conclusive, but they did serve to reinforce the soundness of my arguments.

You see, time after time the end result was the believer ending with the equivalent of “because” as an answer. They believed “because”.

Sometimes they added the “I want to”, as in “I believe because I want to”, but there was never even a shred of justification for that belief that came from the Bible. I can respect that somewhat; I don’t understand it, but can marginally respect it.

What I can’t buy are people wanting to validate their belief by logic, by argument, by evidence, and then making up shit, evading, and denying all the arguments refuting their statements.

Side note: I often have been tempted to join a Bible study group. I’m curious about what they are actually doing as they sit there, Bibles in hand. 

Fall,

Move forward twenty years, countless discussions, canned answers, flawed logic, unsubstantiated assertions, personal anecdotes (one person told me she had prayed for some money, and the next day there was an envelope with said money at the foot of her bed – she was overjoyed; I would have been creeped out that someone had been in my bedroom while I was sleeping, then I would have been ashamed for having prayed for money instead of praying to cure a kid or feed starving people, and then I would have wondered if the money was counterfeit – I mean, either god stole money from somewhere, or he manufactured it), and just plain nonsense, and I started to see a shift. 

You see, believers shifted proof from the Bible (where it can’t be found) to nature . . . using ‘science’.

Ah, science . . . I love science; I even understand most of it (unlike, you know, most religious folks). 

Another twenty years followed; more discussions about the Bible, and many discussions about nature, our origin, science of belief, the increased understanding of our brains, and all sorts of fascinating topics of discussion that usually still resolved into what is the only honest answer I ever got . . . “I believe because I want to”.

Fine. I really don’t care what anyone wants to believe. I do think that if they are not constantly questioning what they believe, then they are seldom deserving of respect or consideration, but that’s another story; at least most of them are not jerks.

. . . unless they take their belief and use it to tell others how to live their lives.

Toward the end of those twenty years we come to the glorious years of discovering people who thought like me, and not only they did not stutter, but wrote and spoke my thoughts much better than I ever had, or could. Hitchens, Harris, a few others.

You see, many, many atheists I had known walked on eggshells, dodging the serious questions, veiling their answers in what I call accommodationism . . . something like “yes, they are wrong in their beliefs, but we don’t want to piss them off by pointing out their fails in reason, logic, history, science, and basic humanity”.

Damn, but I miss Hitchens. 

“Where is this going,” you ask? “Where’s this epiphany?”

Whoa! . . . there’s someone still reading this? OK, OK . . . I’ll wind it up.

Fall,

Remember I mentioned discussions with honest believers? Them now be rare . . . I also mentioned I dipped back into discussions, and what I find is that the narrative has changed, the tactics have changed.

They make a statement; you counter it; they ignore most of what you say, ignore links, ignore data; they make another statement; you correct them, provide the reason, show where they went wrong; they make a different statement, but really just a rehash of the previous one.

They do not address the tough questions, they do not acknowledge responses, they shift, shift, shift.

Forty years; I am tired.

On three discussion over the past week I reached a point where I just have to leave. It had been a waste of time, effort, and the exposure to faulty thinking damaged my calm.

Also, even though I try to answer in kind to the tone of the other comments, I’m sometimes accused of being mean, rude, or just plain not nice. 

Perhaps I am, I don’t know . . . I don’t try to be any of those things unless really provoked, but I know I can unleash; perhaps I now do it without realizing it. I mean, I usually go back and reread what I said, and I don’t see it, but maybe I have a higher threshold than others.

Or, perhaps, I’m arguing with the equivalent of emotionally and intellectually stunted individuals, incapable of holding a frank discussion. 

Or . . . we’ve entered The Age of Entitlement. Unlike The Age of Enlightenment, it’s not characterized by reason, but by superficial feelings and toddler brains.

From Psychology Today:

“In the Adult brain, which reaches full maturity around age 28, we have the mental capacity to construct a solid sense of self. Living in it, we’re able to improve situations, connect to others, protect all that we value, and appreciate people, ideas, nature, and creative beauty. We can stand for something, learn from our mistakes, make the world a better place, and forge a legacy.”

“. . . the Toddler brain . . . Instead of regulating alarms with reality-testing, then, our thought processes amplify and magnify them. Intelligence and creativity go to justifying the alarm. Commandeered by Toddler brain habits, the prefrontal cortex can reduce the alarm only temporarily by blaming it on someone, denying responsibility for it, or avoiding it through distractions. That’s right: It employs the familiar toddler coping mechanisms of blame, denial, and avoidance.”

Read it again . . . “learn from our mistakes, make the world a better place” versus “blame denial, and avoidance.”

Please, convince me. Give me a cogent argument. Show me the logic, show me the data, show me the proof. That’s what I’m about in all my arguments . . . convince me, and I will change my mind.

The problem is that people debating me don’t appear to actually listen to what I say . . . while I spend an inordinate amount of time responding to each of their point, all they do is move on to something else, not acknowledging the argument, not answering questions, not responding to challenges.

My epiphany? . . . we never had children; I’m not equipped to deal with toddlers.

I’ve stopped the subscription to a number of blogs, cancelled subscriptions to many, many comments, and removed the religion, atheism, skeptic, and tags for similar topics from my readers (even though I seldom visit it, I do occasionally look at it, and I don’t want to accidentally see some blog post and be dragged in). 

Mind you, I will still write about those things, but only in reaction to the news and current events.

As of right now, believers will have to earn a measure of my respect before I consider another discussion about religion with any of them, and even then, it better be a new argument; if it’s a rehash of stuff from the past forty years, sorry . . . go get your education elsewhere.

Fall,

I don’t want to diminish the few good discussions I’ve had, but even those take time, effort, and invariably still end up with “I believe because I want to”. I can respect that, but then why start a discussion? If that is the starting point and ending point, we are both wasting our time.

Just once I would like to hear . . . “Uh; interesting points. I have no answer to that, but it has instilled doubt in my mind, and an awareness that perhaps I’ve not thought this through well enough,” but I’m done hoping for it. 

Listening to a few atheism and atheist podcasts, I know it happens; I know some people do apply reason, logic, and some have even found it liberating to do so . . . but not anyone I ever spoke to. Not a one.

Perhaps I am just a jerk, and I’m hurting the cause (if there were a cause), and actually driving more people toward religion; as good a reason as any to extricate myself from the fray.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

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Something I’ll be adding to my opinion pieces. It comes from a discussion I had (unrelated to religion) regarding the difficulty of writing to an 8th to 10th grade level. I did not tweak the writing after checking readability.

Reading Ease for this post

A higher score indicates easier readability; scores usually range between 0 and 100.

Readability Formula Score
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease 66.3

Readability Grade Levels for this post

A grade level (based on the USA education system) is equivalent to the number of years of education a person has had. Scores over 22 should generally be taken to mean graduate level text.

Readability Formula Grade
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level 7.9
Gunning-Fog Score 10.7
Coleman-Liau Index 10.1
SMOG Index 7.9
Automated Readability Index 7.1
Average Grade Level 8.7

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Note: if you are not reading this blog post at Disperser.Wordpress.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.

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Please, if you are considering bestowing me recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so.  I will decline blogger-to-blogger awards.   I appreciate the intent behind it, but I prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way.  That would mean something to me.

If you wish to know more, please read below.

About awards: Blogger Awards
About “likes”:   Of “Likes”, Subscriptions, and Stuff

Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.

. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
This entry was posted in Musings Stuff, Opinion, Personal, Religion, Skepticism, Writing Stuff and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Epiphany

  1. john zande says:

    You can’t be fully disheartened until you find yourself a Gish Galloping apologist. Precious things they are.

    Like

    • disperser says:

      Written discussion are a bit more manageable, but . . . been there, done that.

      . . . uh . . .not trying to be rude, or anything . . .

      Like

    • disperser says:

      By the way, I looked at your blog, and then I started to read the comments . . .

      HA! . . . almost got me, but I held steadfast! I’ll not go looking because I’m bound to cross something that will rise the rude, sanguine, and mean person in me, forcing biting and scathing prose to flow from my fingers as they fly over my keyboard.

      . . . I’m almost calm, so I resisted. The first comment looked OK, and that is, if there were such a thing, a blessing.

      Like

      • john zande says:

        Granted, my blog attracts some gentle, generally harmless nutters. If you want to see some hair-raising lunacy go to insantiybytes2. It’s a 36-ring circus of religious madness.

        Like

  2. Oh no I just deleted my entire comment! First let me say I love the documentary The Nonbelievers! I have not commented on a blog in a very long time, my,life has gotten in the way. But your post caught me. I am so grateful for validation of my jjourney and growth. My husband and I are atheists and raised two daughters who are athiests and found partners who share their beliefs. In My 40 ‘s I chose a new path. A tattoo of the triple goddess was my personal statement of growth. Many of our friends “dropped us” as they did not want to have conversations with non-Believers. Today we all continue to share our perspective but it is often met with side glances or out and out distain. I know we are not alone in our perspective of life and death but for reasons beyond my comprehension we are on the fringe. I remember a Family Guy where Brian came out as an atheist. The statement was made we would have a president of every persuasion before we have an atheist president even thought most probably were! I know I may be rambling but know I appreciate what you share!

    Like

  3. I will always remember “you’re beginning to damage my calm”!

    Liked by 1 person

    • disperser says:

      Are you referring to the show, or something I said? Understand, I am old, and I’ve used that phrase often, so if you’re referring to an exchange we had, please refresh my memory.

      . . . and sorry to hear about life getting in the way; stuff be happening with us as well, which perhaps is making me . . . edgier. No worries about not commenting.

      Like

      • More than a year ago your referred to the comment and it caught my attention as I was currently watching Firefly. And late at night I was trying to say I respect your perspective and it is validating having others who understand ones journey.

        Liked by 1 person

      • disperser says:

        It sounded as if part of the difficulty was the social aspect, as in losing people one thought were ‘friends’.

        I don’t know what that’s like, but I can both sympathize and say, with all honesty, you don’t need friends who cannot accept and respect who you are.

        That said, I am reasonably sure you are surrounded, literally, by many people who are very casual about religion (if not outright disinterested in it).

        There are also secular groups that are springing up specifically to provide the social aspect of what people once found in religion.

        One other option are Unitarian churches. From what I understand, there are a good percentage of atheists who attend specifically for the social aspects.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unitarian_Universalism

        Like I said, not for me, but then I’m not one to go out of my way for social contact.

        Like

  4. Thank you for sharing this! I appreciate it. It is helpful to me. I’m still going through a process of change.
    HUGS!!!

    Like

  5. renxkyoko says:

    I believe in a Higher Being, that’s all. My mother used to read the Bible to me ( children’s Bible ). She said she stopped reading when I asked so many questions that she couldn’t answer. I asked why God wanted Abraham to kill his child, why God allowed bad things to happen to Job, and did dinosaurs and people live together on earth ? She said Just grow up… I don’t want to disappoint you.

    Like

    • disperser says:

      Higher Being could be anything (basketball player, pilot, Zeus, astronaut, stoner, drug addict, drunk person, etc.) . . . don’t wish to debate or argue, but would suggest nailing that down a bit more, as in the qualities, limits, interests, concerns, and relationship of saif being to you and, say, an unbeliever like me.

      Whether you know it or not, beliefs inform our actions, opinions, and how we react to others.

      Like

      • renxkyoko says:

        My belief in a Higher Being is incomprehensible, even to me. I firmly blelieve in Jesus as a historical figure, I believe in His teachings, and I do not want to question that He is the Son of God, or God Himself ( the Holy Trinity ) . I try to live by His teachings, but not all His teachings, mind you. If someone slaps my cheek, I will not offer my other cheek. Instead, I will punch him in the face. I do not forgive easily. And I definitely do not forget. I do not believe The Bible is the Word of God.
        As far as religion is concerned, I do not want to impose my beliefs on others, and therefore, I don’t want to impose theirs on me. I follow the Golden Rule as best as I can. Do not do unto others what you do not want others to do unto you.
        To be honest, I’d be more comfortable to be with atheists and unbelievers than the ultrareligious ones who see the image of God on a slice of bread, or that one who loses her pen, finds it on the floor , under the chair, and utters, Praise the Lord, I found it. ( that’s a true story) I’m like, ” Can you not ? ” But then, what.ever floats her boat .
        Well, that’s it. that’s the extent of my religiosity.

        Like

      • disperser says:

        Quite the mishmash . . . but I like the punch in the face bit.

        What if it’s not a him, but a her?

        Like

  6. shajanm says:

    Why do people (surely not all of them deluded!) find it necessary to believe in God? This is what I find extremely interesting about religions, looking at them as an outsider.

    Like

    • disperser says:

      I don’t know that people in general find it necessary; many are raised in religion, essentially being indoctrinated from a very young age. They don’t consciously see it as a necessity.

      Let me put it another way . . . there are large portion of the population who think nothing of eating bugs. They grew up eating bugs.

      Them who grew up eating salame e formaggio sandwiches probably find the practice outside their ability to comprehend.

      It’s a poor analogy, as eating bugs makes logical sense based on the nutritional value of the bugs, whereas believing in god makes little logical sense, perhaps equivalent to eating bugs made from cardboard.

      The point is that, like cardboard bugs, belief in god has no underlying logic, but few who are raised in the religious culture lift the veil to see the practice has no foundation in rationality.

      Like

  7. PiedType says:

    I tend to agree with your “equivalent of emotionally and intellectually stunted individuals.” I have to fight the thought, knowing that some believers are intelligent and well educated, but I still find it hard to understand how a well educated person can believe in a sky god. I don’t waste a lot of thought on religion, having decided in college that I didn’t believe in the supernatural. But I did once organize my thoughts on the subject well enough to write Atheist by default. I won’t bore you with the details here. I just live and let live — provided people don’t try to force their religion on me. Then I get real belligerent real fast.

    Like

    • PiedType says:

      P.S. My favorite observation on atheism is:
      Science has questions that may never be answered.
      Religion has answers that may never be questioned.

      Like

      • PiedType says:

        P.P.S. I just read your “Religion At Its Worst” post and agree 150%. Thank you for saying what I couldn’t because I couldn’t see through the red haze of anger.

        Like

        • disperser says:

          I’ve reread that a number of time, each time flinching at the harshness of it.

          Still, I can’t bring myself to change it because it barely scratches the surface of the intensity of my feelings about it.

          Like

        • PiedType says:

          It’s true!! Why should we sugarcoat an angry reaction to something like that? Such people need to know that what they are doing is not right, not appreciated, and provokes extreme anger and resentment in others. Polite, subtle, politically correct objections will be ignored or unnoticed. Some people don’t understand “subtle” or “polite.” You need to smack ’em in the face to get their attention.

          Liked by 1 person

        • disperser says:

          Honest, I don’t write these for the believers like the ones who wrote the articles or letters.

          I write for them who are not already lost to reason and critical thinking. They too sometimes need it spelled out in raw form.

          Like

        • PiedType says:

          I wish you luck with that. I gave up long ago any notion that a believer older than, say, college age, was likely to listen to reason. I applaud your patience if you’re still trying.

          Liked by 1 person

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