Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"Dones" are the new "Nones"

According to this Huffington Post article, people who used to be active members of their churches are now leaving and not coming back -- they are done with it!

This should come as no surprise to atheists who have followed the blogs, vlogs, podcasts and other media sources in the atheist community (such as we have).  Consider how many formerly devout people in the public eye are done with it:

  • Jerry DeWitt:  former pastor, now director of The Clergy Project
  • John Loftus:  former pastor, now author and blogger
  • Seth Andrews: former Christian radio broadcaster, now atheist podcaster & author
  • Dan Barker:  former evangelical musician, now co-director of Freedom from Religion Foundation
  • Michael Shermer:  former evangelical Christian, now skeptic and author

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Another Faith-Healing Outrage

Check out Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution is True site today.  He describes two court cases:  one guilty verdict for faith-"healing" parents whose child died, and a Canadian decision to allow parents to force  "traditional" on their sick child.

Note: "The Albatross" is Jerry's forthcoming book about the incompatibility of faith and science.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Near-Death Experiences: What are they?

The brain is a marvelous thing, and it's way smarter than our mind is.  It can imagine things we never thought of, and it can continue coming up with random stuff while we're asleep and even while we're dying.

Obviously, the strings must be pulled by some external force because our willpower has been turned off, right?

Oh wait.... are our thoughts really under our control while we're awake?   What makes us notice extraneous noises while we're trying to read?  What makes us think "nice ass" when we see a good-looking person of our favored sexual desires walk past us?    The same people who think the Devil would make us lust after a nice piece of ass don't bother to assign blame for the more mundane things.  Or do they think they really have control over all their thoughts until the piece of ass walks by?

Then what about dreaming?  If we have no control over those dreams, who does?  Why do I dream about bears so often?  Is that Agreius looking for Oreius?  Or is it just my dream-brain hearing my dog snoring nearby and turning that sound into a bear?  No, it's prophetic.  I'm going to be attacked by a bear.   In my sleep.

If we dream about something seemingly prophetic, that seems magical to us.  But 99.99% or so of our dream never have any relation to subsequent events.  If anything they rehash our recent past in metaphor.  Is it a failed prophesy when the bus that crashes right in front of us and makes us wake from our highway dream doesn't correlate to any actual bus crash?

"Careful.  There's bears around here"
Is there one powerful being that gives us prescient dreams but another one who gives us stupid dreams?   Or if it's just one powerful being, why do we have so few prescient dreams?  Why waste important dream time on purple kangaroos when we could see where the next terrorist attack will be or a short in an airplane's cockpit?

And then when we die, the brain carries on after we stop controlling it.  (*wink*)   It just does whatever it wants, and it conjures up our dead relatives, light bulbs, our doctors, or whatever it wants.   I hope that as I'm dying from a bear attack I won't "see" bears in my altered state of consciousness.  I should see bunnies or something to make up for all the bears in my dreams.

So what inspired these musings?  (Besides staying up past my bedtime?)

I searched for NDE's on Pubmed and found this free article which cites this non-free article.  The abstract is free, however:
Approximately 3% of Americans declare to have had a near-death experience. These experiences classically involve the feeling that one's soul has left the body, approaches a bright light and goes to another reality, where love and bliss are all encompassing. Contrary to popular belief, research suggests that there is nothing paranormal about these experiences. Instead, near-death experiences are the manifestation of normal brain function gone awry, during a traumatic, and sometimes harmless, event.
I feel a bit better now.  I will feel bliss as the bear attacks me, and not the fear or puzzlement I feel when I encounter it in my dreams.

Or perhaps instead of waiting for an NDE, I could get worked up in a Pentecostal altar call.   Or I could take heroin, which from all accounts gives you that love and all-encompassing bliss feeling.

"Heaven is Real" arguments from NDEs always make me think of heroin.  I think of Heaven as a bunch of people nodding off to psychedelic choirs of LSD tripped-out angels.

I want to see a movie called "Reality is Real."  Perhaps with bears in it.  That would be much more interesting.

And now I'm going to bed.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Long & Thoughtful Deconversion Story

A parent follows a child into atheism despite both being victims of Liberty "University."

I took many of the same steps in much the same way, but without any particular incentive.  "Logan" started his deconversion by trying to come up with ways to reason his son back to Christianity.

It didn't work.

Here's a link to the first of this 7-part story:

My deconversion went something like this:  1) the Bible's O.T. is repulsive, 2) The N.T. is contradictory, 3) Everybody else thinks their religion is right, 4) Other supernatural claims are bunk so why not religious ones?

I did indeed try to listen to churchy people along the way.  Apologists just aren't very convincing, and the people they pray for die every day.  "Feeling" the spirit just didn't cut it for me, either, as it sounded a lot like being drunk or stoned on heroin.  And then there are the disembodied voices telling people strange things.  Who believes those voices today?  Only psychotic people.

Anywho, give the story a read.