My Religious History



  I've lived in Alaska, Nevada, Arkansas, Colorado, and have spent a lot of time in Arizona with my family.  Before college, I faithfully attended eight churches across the dozen+ homes I've lived in prior to my advanced schooling. Myself and my family were very involved in those churches and had an, overall, immensely positive experience at each of them.  My church history, in chronological order, is as follows: Methodist, Baptist, Baptist, Christian Missionary Alliance, Pentecostal, nondenominational, Pentecostal, nondenominational.  I've also attended services and events at many, many other churches throughout my life.
  All that to showcase that when it comes to Christianity, I have experience.  I was an officially recognized member at several of those churches.  I spent several hours a week (outside of Sunday) at several of those churches to help out, clean, help with events, ect..  I was involved.  So for this Out Loud I'm going to reflect on my religious history (like the title says.)  
Yes, those two in the corner are Alaska, not Canada.

The Fostering of Proud Ignorance



  Recently, a Christian friend of mine (an educated, kind, courteous individualengaged me in discussion of a TED talk clip titled Why Would God Create a Tsunami?  My friend shared this link on Facebook with his added text of "This may be the most Godly agnosticism I've ever heard."  I questioned his terminology (confused at his choice of wording) and finished my initial response with "Overall, though, seems to be a wishy-washy presentation for a TED talk."  In a separate response I later clarified what I meant by wishy-washy: 
  His response made me throw my hands up in the air and give out a sigh of "Well.. I don't think he's even aware of what he's suggesting.."  
  I didn't bother following up this vapid (the words, not him) response because.. what's there to say to someone who just proclaimed an lack of interest in investigation and methods of determining truth?  It also comes across as one of the 'pretentious theist responses' by including "attempts at finding God" as if the many fields of science are actually directly concerned with a Yahweh character.  Now, that's not what he was suggesting, he was talking more about an individual's faith and personal beliefs and all that good stuff that makes for an intellectually caffeine-free TED talk.  
  This post is not about him, but about the general sentiment his words carry.  It's about the ignorance that faith/religion makes good use of and often fosters.  

#9 His Eye Is on the Pharaoh (Exodus 4:21)



Exodus 4:21
And the Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.
-----

  I think every atheist who has been in the trenches has heard the "free will" argument from theists.  God seems uninterested in proving anything himself?  Free will!  Not a lot of people accepting your claim?  Free will!  So much trouble and immorality in the world?  Free will!  Here in Exodus we have an example of God flipping the dove to free will!  
  This isn't god "removed his grace" or "gave pharaoh over to his own desires" or such flimsy evasions like that.  God is actively tampering with the will of a human being here.  Sometime in the future I'll share Yahweh's other moments of "what free will?" in other passages and particular aspects of Christianity. (Tower of Babel, King Saul, doctrines holding predestination, "curses" in the Bible, King Ahab, and several other references & superhappyfun religious observances) 
Yahweh- the kind of guy who plays chess against himself (so he can win)

OL: Coming Out to a Pastor's Daughter



  This is my first Out Loud, a thingy I'll do when I just want to vent or muse or blahblahblah.  For my first one I'm gonna talk about my experience revealing my atheism to some friends and a "miracle" one of them brought up that I wish I commented on during the conversation.

  I recently came out to two good friends of mine, Ben and April, concerning my atheism.  I've known April longer than anyone else outside of my family and Ben (her husband) is someone I got to become good friends with a little less than two years ago.  They are both Christians, future-teachers, and are fantastic, loving, genuine people with equally fantastic families.  They're humble folks, and would possibly be hesitant to accept the title, but I'd additionally classify them as missionaries- they feel burdened (in that good, Christian sense of "burden") to take the gospel to Central and South America.  
  The months leading up to me telling them that I was an atheist were filled with dread.  I knew they weren't going to freak out or disavow me or anything like that- as I said, Ben and April are great people.  However, April's dad (Gary), a Church of Christ pastor (I know CoC typically calls them "preachers".. but I grew up with "pastor") and a good friend of mine, is presently, as of the posting of this write-up, unaware of my upgrade out of religion.

Godlessness and Gumballs


Gumballs: anything more complicated would confuse some of you.
  Using gumballs (scroll down to the jar of gumballs to get to the focus of this post), I shall illustrate how atheism is not the claim that a god doesn't exist but is merely the rejection of the claim of the existence of a god (or gods.)  There is a similar example that makes the same point using a courtroom and how "not guilty"  "innocent" (innocence is not what the jury is asserting, only guilt is being addressed.)  However... while the courtroom analogy is more thorough, even someone like Eric Hovind could understand the gumball analogy and it's a much more simple illustration to share.
    Starting off, some of my wording and the fundamental imagery of this write-up are borrowed from former president of the Atheist Community of Austin, Matt Dillahunty.


Matt Dillahunty: eating babies and taking names.
  Former almost-a-Baptist-minister Matt Dillahunty is the host of the cable access show The Atheist Experience, a co-host of the Internet show The Non Prophets, and is the founder of the counter-apologetics wiki Iron Chariots.org.  Matt's style can be a little harsh at times, but overall I'm a huge fan and I recommend the above shows (I ingest them in netcast form) and website.  I do have my personal reservations about some aspects of the show (and several objections to how some people treat the show material) and I'll likely make a post about my beefs in the near future.  

  Before we talk of gumballs, we will first discuss why this illustration is relevant and what problem(s) it aims to address.