Many atheists in the atheist community are fans of the podcast The Atheist Experience with Matt Dillahunty, Jeff, Dee, Martin Wagner, Russell Glassser, Tracie Harris, Jen Peeples, and a number of others. This podcast is put on by the Atheist Community of Austin. This award-winning podcast gets much attention from Christians and Muslims (mostly) for their debate and scientific method debates. And I've been watching it for the first time for the last two or three months but I've heard about it for years.
Lots of new atheists listen to this podcast "religiously" in order to sharpen their religious debate chops and, probably to find ways to reduce the habit of religious thinking and to get better at critical thought. And lots of Christian and Muslim apologists call in to debate various points of belief, history, dogma, etc. I have heard of the podcast for many years now but I've never been the slightest bit interested in listening to it. I'm not a debater in the least but when you get together in a group of atheists, you'll hear about it. I've been an atheist for about twenty years and I was almost completely unfamiliar with both the shows and all of the personalities who appear on the show.
But lately I've had some interest in it. And because I'm listening to it, I'm annoyed lately. Alot.
That might also explain my pissy atheism posts lately...
This post might be another one.
Through that show or some other, last week I heard some interview excerpts with the absurd Ray Comfort. In case you don't know who Ray Comfort is, he's an evangelist from New Zealand, now living in the States who is simply always saying the most ridiculous things and who has gained some fame with his debates.
Sometimes I get myself all worked up and miss it, but the entire point of this blog post is the thing Ray Comfort said somewhere... no idea where. I can't be bothered to go find out where I read or heard this one but it would be easy enough to find if you searched for it. This quote of his is a total pet peeve of mine. He said this about people who have left religion:
You were a fake Christian.
Just what is that claim all about? Why it is so common for people who are believers to say to those who have left religion that they were never REAL CHRISTIANS. I'm quite convinced that that suggestion comes directly from the church, from the pulpit. It's a very evangelical thing to say: you aren't a True Christian.
And then, the worst! 😉, when a person finds their way out of the mythology and into free thought, we are very often told that we were never a REAL Christian. I've been told this one many a time. I think this is said by some believers because, in the mind of a believer it's simply impossible to imaging no longer believing, which kind of makes it their issue and not mine. A real believer can never leave, they think.
And yet, here I am. I was a Real Christian.
It mattered a super, great deal to me. I was committed. I felt it was true for life. I spent lots of time certain and comfortable with that certainty. I was hungering and thirsting for the Lord. I was involved in Bible studies for years, planning my weeks around activities at church, attending at least one mass per week, often more, reading Biblical literature, involved with many programs at my church, including teaching Bible School to preschoolers on a Sunday morning, my friends were all believers, making religious pilgrimages, placing my belief in Jesus Christ, meaning what I said, praying many times throughout the day, striving to be a better Christian every day, I was dully fearful of disbelief, truly fearful of Satan and hell, terrified to be around an atheist ...all of that stuff that was real and true and meaningful to me. In my family, I was considered very religious.
You, Ray Comfort and anyone else who suggests that I was never a Real Christian, can live in your little delusional lives and you can make up all of the rules you want. You can derisively make claims all you want. I'm certain it is your fear that, maybe, one day, you will find a way out of the belief doghouse too that makes you so certain that it is not possible. I think that you are quite aware of the flimsy story that you are latched to and you have to create all of these little rules to keep yourself from seeing your own fear, your own smallness in the vastness of all that is.
It took me over three years, against my will, to leave the belief.
THREE YEARS to get enough distance from the utter foolishness of your certainty. And now I am a total atheist. And if you think your certainty of my falseness means anything, well, not only do you not get to make rules about my life, I think you are not Really Thinking. And, sadly, perhaps you never will...
but I wish you could.
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