Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2002 00:55:58 -0800
To: B J K*********
From: Darwin Bedford <Darwin@atheists.net>
Subject: Re: [WEB-20021125.d0f3a0] Message to Darwin


Hi B J K*********,

First let me say that I am sorry for the delay in responding.  Life can get busy at times.

Much can be learned from history but you always have to keep in mind that things can change.  Just look at how the nature of slavery has changed.  Knowledge or awareness can cause paradigm shifts.  I believe that religion will become obsolete as a manipulator. 

I think that modern child rearing books hold the key to replacing the teaching the golden rule.  Thinking and behavior is based on reasons pertaining to the now--not traditional practices.

I heard about Paul inventing Christianity from a speech given at my humanist association.  And the theory that Jesus did not quite die on the cross but was revived enough to make an appearance in some rich person's house.  Paul wrote about it some 30 years later from what he heard from others.

The religious to non-religious ratio in North America may be around 80% to 20%, but there is massive wave of young people that are not being controlled by the first three estates and media barons.  I think that it is just a matter of time before religion is totally exposed by them for its falsities--thus rendering it obsolete for anything but arts and entertainment (in much the same way that the Greek gods are considered legend).

Darwin Bedford
www.atheists.net
 

At 10:43 AM 11/29/2002 -0600, you wrote:

Darwin,

I sincerely appreciate your taking the time to reply. I look forward to an
interesting dialog.

Please allow me a few lines to build a thumbnail sketch of myself...to help
put my response into better perspective. I am nearing 60 years on this
planet. I was raised in a Methodist household (before they were 'United').
My deconversion began when I was only 6. I went to bed one night with a
loose tooth. Before I fell asleep, I had toyed with it until it came out.
Then, trusting that the tooth fairy would retrieve it during the night, I
placed it under my pillow. Sure enough, the next morning it was still there.
When I complained to my parents, they explained it away, but the damage was
done. I would never again completely accept anything anyone told me that
contradicted personal experience. I never overtly rebelled against the
church, but passive aggression was everywhere, and I quit attending as soon
as I left my parents supervision.

I received a BSEE from Texas A&M (and a simultaneous commission from the US
Army). I served three tours in Vietnam where any illusions of a just and
merciful God were forever driven from my mind. It was during that time that
I came to absolute awareness that "I" was of necessity the final arbiter of
my personal reality; that for something to be accepted as truth, it had to
pass the most rigorous vetting. After my discharge,  I attended the
University of Texas and earned a Bachelor's degree in Anthropology
(Specialty: Meso-American Indian culture). During the next several years I
seriously studied (in order): Yogiism, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Judism,
and Islam. I studied the first two initially as a seeker, then increasingly
as a skeptical anthropologist. Along the way, I discovered that EVERY
humanoid society that anthropologists have ever studied has had a religion.
So I began to explore why this was so. I have concluded that: a) For any
societiy to be functionally stable, it has to be composed of mostly
followers. Nature has simply selected against those that were inherently
unstable (and she still does today). b) The one essential characteristic of
followers is that they willingly accept the ideas, concepts, and directions
of others without question. c) Religion is THE MOST POWERFUL tool ever
invented for controlling and directing the masses because it claims an
ultimate authority as its source. HENCE: Religion has persisted, and will
persist as long as there are sentient social animals. About this, Marx WAS
right! Religion IS the opiate of the masses.

For some years after that, I remained very anti-religion. Then I read a
quote from Nietsche wherein he described his 'ideal' man as one who does not
believe in God or revealed scripture, but lives his ethical life as if he
did. From those beginnings, I came to realize that religion DOES inculcate
people with a viable set of ethical rules, albiet with a lot of unnecessary,
cumbersome, and sometimes counterproductive baggage. Further, that a lot of
this baggage has been added along the way by 'leaders' using religion to
direct their societies in certain directions for largely political reasons.
All this is to say that I have learned that religion exists because humanity
as a whole NEEDS it to exist. The evolution of religious concept and
conviction has been that of continual REINVENTION...and therein lies the
secret of conquering it. To assault a religion's articles of faith has been
repeatedly demonstrated down through history to only strengthen them.

I have been deeply impressed with the works of Joseph Campbell, who made me
realize that all mythologies seek to answer the same questions, and to a
remarkable degree have used symbologies that are almost interchangeable (and
that Christianity is no exception). His work has led me to understand that
any philosophy that depends on "articles of faith" is in fact a religion, or
will respond just as a religion would to attempts to refute those articles
of faith. This is true whether you are dealing with a religious philosophy
or a political one. Consider for a moment whether the political left (or
right) is a 'secular' religion. Does it not have its articles of faith? Do
they consistently respond defensively to any attempt to discredit or
undermind them, no matter how solidly founded in logic and reason? This is
why I contend that such frontal assaults are not only counterproductive for
deconversion because they serve mostly as a "test of faith" for our
opposition to use to reaffirm their faith, they put us in the role of
outsider, enemy, and heretic. As such, it allows them to stereotype us in
the eyes of those who ARE suceptible to our arguements, and that damages the
larger goal. Deconverting the faithful is much like saving an alcoholic.
Until the person is ready to change, no amount of rational logic, cajoling
or coercion will work.

As for Christianity, my studies have convinced me that Paul INVENTED
Christianity (i.e. the concept that Jesus died for our sins, etc), that
there WAS (most probably) a historical Jesus, that in his own mind WAS the
Messiah (in the strictly Jewish context), that he WAS crucified for it, that
he was only one of several (both before and after him) that so believed.
Further, the naming of James (Jesus' half-brother and heir apparent) as head
of the Church in Jerusalem in the following days supports the desciples'
similar understanding that the Messianic kingdom was to be an earthly
kingdom with Jesus at its head. There are many more evidences of this:
Demonstration that Jesus WAS a Pharisee, and Paul not only wasn't but
couldn't have been. Demonstration that the four Gospels were written AFTER
Paul's letters to the Greek states, and were therefore available to the
gospel-writers for reference. That their placement at the beginning of the
New Testament was a rather crude effort to make it appear that they came
first and were therefore "Gospel". If you wish, I can elaborate on this
subject, either as a continuation of this dialog, or even for publication on
your website at some time in the future.

For the last twenty+ years, I have been integrating my studies in astronomy,
physics, philosophy, religion, and politics into a universally comprehensive
grasp of reality. That this is a work-in-progress is my badge of honor,
because it proves that I am still alive and still learning.

My response has grown longer than I intended...but it is because I have much
to share and I sincerely want to pique your interest into a lasting dialog.
I look forward to your response.

B J K*********
Capt USArmySF (ret)

----- Original Message -----
From: "Darwin Bedford" <Darwin@atheists.net>
To: B J K*********
Sent: Friday, November 29, 2002 2:10 AM
Subject: Re: [WEB-20021125.d0f3a0] Message to Darwin



Hi B J K*********,

Yes it does seem that my site is preoccupied with refuting Christianity,
although the aim is to refute all religion.  I can think of at least two
reasons for this.  It is a North American site and Christianity is the
dominant religion there and it's the religion that I have been unwittingly
exposed to all my life.  The second is that Christians are more adamant
(the most in-your-face) about saving your soul than most other
religions.  I also feel that if Christianity dies off (and it should
because it is based on the most hilarious of stories), that other religions
will die off with it -- i.e., religion will become passť.

Since the religious to non-religious ratio in North America is still around
80% to 20%, I think that focusing on refuting God is the best strategy for
now.  However, I hope to be proven wrong on this.

Darwin Bedford
www.atheists.net


At , you wrote:
>---------------------------------------------------------------------------
>Date and Time: Monday, November 25, 2002, 12:48 PST
>Source URL:    http://www.atheists.net/
>---------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
>From:
>   B J K*********
>
>Message:
>   I have been an athiest for more than two decades, but only recently
> picked up a copy of "Losing Faith in Faith". I quickly realized that
> author spent the majority of the book rejecting and arguing against
> Christianity, but chalked it up to: 1) The len
>gth and depth of his former commitment to his faith, and 2) The recentness
>of his emancipation.
>
>   In his book he made extensive reference to the Freedom from Religion
> Foundation, so I decided to check out their website. My purpose was to
> find kindred spirits for dialog and to expand my horizons. I was
> disappointed to find FFRF to be primarily focu
>sed on refuting Christianity, so I expanded my search to other athiest
>websites. Unfortunately, all, including yours seem to be similarly
>preoccupied. That's a shame, because it relegates the forum to reactionary
>status.
>
>   I want to broaden the focus to include (two examples)Nietzsche and his
> insight (when he said 'Were there not a God, it would be necessary to
> invent one.). OR, Could it be that the persistence of religion is
> fundamentally rooted in mankind's biological
>  history as a "social" animal? i.e. All stable societies MUST of
> necessity consist of mostly followers?
>
>   Are you up to getting beyond philosophical discussions that seem
> preoccupied with convincing Christians (or yourselves) that they're wrong
> and you're right? I have reached the point that I DON'T CARE what
> Christians think of me or my beliefs; you can'
>t be a stand-on-your-own athiest until you no longer need that refutation
>to validate yourself.
>
>   P.S. I have come to look at religion as being like Dumbo's magic
> feather. While his faith in it was purely delusional, nonetheless,
> without it he would never have even tried to fly...much less succeeded!
>
>   I look forward to your reply.