take this thing off of me. it burns

Forgive me if I sound less than over the moon about this. Another christian has volunteered to converse. His name is Ash. I'm just not getting my hopes up. He left a comment the other day which I'll share with you below:

Here is Ash's comment:
Hello, I was led to your blog from de-conversion.com and wanted to share my thoughts. I’m a Christian who grew up going to church and then stopped believing for about seven years, and was led back to Christ just in the past few months.

“it took scientists to do careful experiments, then to share those results, then have them verified and checked, and have other scientists to do the same experiments before the law of gravity was considered more or less a given.”

Sounds about right. I am an artist, but I have a pretty good understanding of the scientific process, having taken classes in high school and GE’s in college. It definitely stimulates the mind, which is a great experience for most people. I have a little scientist in me as well who loves to experiment and observe the world in the spirit of trial and error. We’ve all learned to trust in evidence.

Art is different because it’s more of a bodily experience. There is a great amount of thinking that goes behind art, but the actual experience has more to do with the body: producing with the hands, consuming with the eyes. It’s more about the feeling and less about the thinking. Often we can’t pinpoint exactly why we love a work of art- I know that for me I’d rather just listen to a song I love in the time that I could spend analyzing it.

And then there’s the spirit. I believe that to pursue God, whether you knew him in the past or not, you need to be willing to let go of your dependence on proof. I think the reason art/literature/music is mainly seen as a break from work is because that’s when you can sit back relax, and stop thinking. I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t need the occasional break from mental stimulation. The thing with Spirit is, you can’t look at God (objectively or subjectively) without thinking. I really don’t think it’s possible. But spirit is missing that essential element of proof that scientists live by. Instead of proof, we are asked to trust in faith.

If human beings can accept both art and science despite their natural differences, I believe they can also accept the concept of faith, if they really want to. I myself am still getting used to the feeling of having this faith, since I lived without it for so long.

I agree that you can be happy without God. But there is a different kind of joy in believing in God that I find completely amazing. The desire to share this joy is really so overwhelming, and that’s the reason why we Christians can’t leave you guys alone, even if we have the utmost respect for you.

If you’re interested at all I would really love to trade ideas over email and share our experiences. If not, I can only pray that you’ll always keep an eye out for God, and that my ultra long ramble made at least a microscopic drop of sense.

I have been busy since he commented so I hadn't replied. But apparently he got the interest of 2 people who I will quote below in all their splendor. I'll intersperse my comments within as usual. If you want you can click above and read the original comment and replies in context.

James replied:
“you need to be willing to let go of your dependence on proof”

Checkmate. You’ve clearly got nothing to add to any thoughtful or rational discussion if that is your major selling point.

Neece says: I have a video that addresses this exact topic. I will post it at the bottom. In the meantime let's look at the definition of faith:

Faith: Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.  Christianity The theological virtue defined as secure belief in god and a trusting acceptance of god's will.

I disagree with the second definition. Faith is not a virtue, it's a crutch, a weakness. You believe what you are indoctrinated to believe without any kind of evidence or proof. That's gullibility, not something to be proud of. I'll stick to science, thank you very much.

By the way, it sounds like the side effects of your god experience are similar to what I've blogged about before. It's called Transcendence. It's when the right parietal lobe of the brain shuts down. It's not god, it's just your brain shutting part of itself down.

Personally my life is quite happy without believing in bronze and iron age fairy tales. I'm not trying to be rude, but that's what they are. I really do not understand why you feel the need to convert others. If you want to have your own beliefs I'm OK with that. I don't try to deconvert anyone. Just leave me and my rights alone. It's when christians insist on foisting their beliefs and false morals onto me that I get very irritated. I have yet to meet a christian who shows any kind of respect to me if I tell him I'm an atheist. If anything I get anger, abusive attacks, threats, insults or lies. My experience with respect from christians is lacking. I'm not sure where you get that. Maybe that's your personal experience.

You have faith in the christian god, but why is that? Why not believe in Zeus or Odin or Allah? Because you were indoctrinated into christianity. Your societal exposure around you is christian and you take comfort in that. But that only makes it a cultural brainwashing, not a reality.

You're also saying that science is different than art. Then that science is different than god? Or art is like god, neither need any kind of logic or sense or evidence? First I'd say that science and art have one thing in common. They both follow the laws of science and physics. Your god does not. (miracles, the dead rising, talking snakes, creation in 7 days). Why does the bible and your god get to break the laws of physics? That would be special pleading, wouldn't it? I don't buy it.

Your ramble makes sense in context. You are a christian and this is what you believe. But it doesn't encourage me to change teams in even the slightest way. We can converse by email if you would like. But the same rules apply. See here for a list. Plus I'd like to carry the conversation to HDC here. I think we all benefit from the dialogue. :)

Ash retorted:
Assuming of course that nothing in life can exist without scientific proof. The evidence of love is not in the theories of the human body/psyche but in the act of loving. Love can never be a controlled experiment because it is unique to individual experience, yet everyone has the potential to know love. I believe God is the same way.

And James riposted: (sorry, running out of synonyms)
I didn’t say that nothing can exist in life without scientific proof. It is a question of epistemology - what we can claim to know with some semblance of certainty. Love is not like God. Love is a subjective human emotion. A label that we assign to certain feelings and behaviors that are common to all of us and thus easily understood. God is allegedly a being that exists apart from any of us and apart from anything around us.

Neece here again. I think I'll leave that as it stands. I agree with James. :)

Then Michael Mock swooped in to quip:
Ash said: “I believe that to pursue God, whether you knew him in the past or not, you need to be willing to let go of your dependence on proof.”

This is interesting to me, because you also said: “I’m a Christian who grew up going to church and then stopped believing for about seven years, and was led back to Christ just in the past few months.”

So, are you actually a Christian? Or merely a Deist? What, in your personal experience of G-d, led you to choose that particular mythos (that Jesus, who is somehow both G-d and the Son of G-d, died on the cross to obtain forgiveness for our sins) to describe your experience of the divine?

I guess what I’m getting at is that it’s really easy to confuse belief in G-d with Christianity - at least here in North America, where Christianity is so prevalent as to saturate the mainstream culture, and where other religions are less common and rather more difficult to find/notice.

So… Belief in G-d gives you a unique joy. That’s fine, at least for me; I’m perfectly willing to accept subjective personal experience as a basis for faith. But why are you a Christian in particular?

Editied to add: My reason for quoting you on the need to let go of dependence on proof is that an awful lot of Christians seem to treat the Bible as proof of G-d’s existence - and more, as the authoritative description of the nature of the divine. This seems to me a bit limiting, given that we’re talking about a being who is supposed to be Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnibenevolent.

Michael Mock
who doesn’t mind e-mails
but would rather have the conversation here

Neece here again: First, I have to say, I find referring to god as G-d to be strange and exceedingly irritating. What purpose does it fulfill? Here's a story for you. I was helping a person move. We got everything into the new house and were sitting on the floor amongst the stacks when a friend said, "Now where are the n-i-g-g-e-r-s to unpack everything?" (she was totally kidding, by the way.) But I laughed at her because she's very religious and it seemed completely ludicrous for her to be spelling out racist bad words. I said to her, "god can spell, you know!" That ended that conversation! LOL

Anyway, it seems silly to be afraid to type an o in the middle of a word, even if it is the nickname of the invisible sky daddy that can make you burn in hell for all eternity along with us heathens.

Michael, obviously you're a christian. But why give another christian such a hard time? Why do christians do that? Why do you all attack each other so much? No one is the right kind of believer just like you. No one worships right like you do. That just seems crazy to me.

The other day I went to an atheist group meeting. Of course we all had widely divergent ideas and philosophies but we were all dogma-free and god-free. So for 2 hours we had a great time talking and enjoying each others' company. Why do christians constantly say "that person isn't a good christian. They go to the wrong church, or practice christianity wrong." It makes no sense whatsoever. All it does is make me think of Occam's Razor. If things continue to get more divergent, you have to wonder if they were ever right to begin with.

Michael, the bible cannot be quoted as evidence of god. That would be circular logic which by its definition proves nothing. There is no evidence of god at all, and there never has been. What is your evidence for god then?

Oh, and faith by its nature needs no proof at all, just to be clear. That makes it completely baseless in reality though too. And shows someone as gullible and intellectually lazy.

Here's a video I found through Facebook. It's 5:50 min and sums up how to look at religion and science in an amusing way. It's titled Religion is Retarded, but try to see what he's saying. It's good stuff:

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