Many of you know me and may remember when I got suckered in to the debate at work that turned in to a royal rumble in the parking I was supposed to get a debate with that pastor shortly afterwords. Well for reasons beyond my understanding he was unable to comply with the date. I think the church didn't like the idea or something.

Anyway, so he has set up another one to be held march 26th in Mississippi at a convention center. I'm very nervous because I'm not an experienced public speaker. Also there is going to be an audience of (I'm assuming) all Christians. I may get lynched lol.

So I think I may be getting suckered in to another bad situation. I don't wanna have to fight more Christians (physically) but if I back out now I'm scared I may hurt our cause. I'm not worried about the winning or losing part (again physically) but I'm sure the police and the judge are going to think I'm out looking for fights. I'm also ill prepared as school started back March 15th and I'm to busy studying design and coding to deal with the fictitious lord of the Jews. Is anyone in the area that could maybe attend with me? If not can anyone lend some advice? Thanks guys.

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I just got tired! lol anyway. Preacher was a no show. He said he had to go to the hospital and pray for one of his church members. He asked if I could go tomorrow. I told him I would try BUT, others DID show. I spoke with each one. Considering all but us 5 where Christians I had LOTS of questions to answer! LOL

Anyway, I got a few people to come and check out atheist nexus (at least they said they would) and I answered all but ONE question. I did the best I could but, I really dont know what to say to it. The question was "You seem to have a replacement for everything. All I wanna know is what replaces heaven?" I tried to explain I couldn't replace something that was never there in the first place but, that didn't go over well.

Then I tried another approach. "At least there's not a shot in "hell" that your going to hell!" I gotta few laughs but, still. I feel like I was unprepared for that one. I should have been. I got alot of older people telling me I was going to hell. Oh yeah and one younger guy tried to get confrontational. He said I would find out when I died that there was a hell. I said I'm sure I will. As will you. But who will be more frustrated? Me not existing as I did for millions of years before I was born? Or you not existing wishing you would have listened and made something out of this life rather than wasting it reading a 2000 year old story book? He didn't like that.

Thankfully security was on site. Apparently the preacher did something right! So he was removed. I worried about my car and had to send my brother in law to periodically check on it. I'm pretty sure he didn't know what car was mine but still. I was paranoid! lol Anyway so maybe I'll make it out tomorrow. I'm just extremely tired right now!
The answer to the question; What replaces heaven? At least for me that answer is, heaven on earth. Enjoy what you have in the here and now.

After you have had a good sleep on the experience you will see things more clearly.

Also, do you think that pastor guy was telling the truth about visiting his parishoners? I mean that seems kind of contrived doesn't it? Almost like he was trying to teach you a lesson or something. Probably not, I can be a bit paranoid sometimes when it comes to these folks, they tend to get more pious when you question them.
Not sure? I didn't receive a follow up call or anything and I didn't go back out there today. I had to help my step father move in to his new house. But you may be on to something....I don't think he meant to "teach me a lesson" but I do believe he may have been trying to put me in an awkward position and cast doubt on everything I was saying.

Maybe something like "He may have time to talk about rather he is right or wrong but I'm out saving souls..." or something to that effect. Who knows. These people are off anyway. I was just proud that I got some people to use their heads for more than a hat rack.

As far as the heaven thing is concerned....I really don't think I CAN come up with an equivalent or a substitution for a heaven. Nor will I ever try to again. To come up with a "replacement" there has to in fact be something TO replace. If heaven never existed how can I (or anyone else) replace it? I can say enjoy life here on Earth. For some this is enough to be content with. But for others, who are so wrapped up with the idea of there being something after life, (like a paradise of sorts) it's hard for them to wrap their minds around nothing-ness.

I still think never going to hell no matter what, is a good replacement. I had this drilled in to my head as a child and still catch myself thinking about it. It was a scary place. I never wanted to go there. In fact, I think that is what delayed my entry in to the category of Atheist. I was taught to even QUESTION the lord's word would get you a "go directly to jail" card. My first few days searching for the truth I was constantly having nightmares. I would wake up sweating asking nothing to forgive me.

It took a lot of courage and research to finally get me to outright dismiss the existence of a God. I think that's why I take this battle to heart like I do. I never wanna see another child, teen, or even a senior go through what I did. Religion is evil. The greatest evil man-kind has ever fabricated. I hate it. It's a strong word but, a justified use of it. As i said before....I will continue to fight it at every opportunity.
Hey James, Just watched this documentary this morning. It was pretty intriguing. You might want to check it out: Flight From Death: The Quest for Immortality.

I too was given the hell and brimstone version of christianity. I was told that god was watching and to be careful what I do, even in private, because it was all being watched. I no longer worry about that, but I still feel like I am being watched and god was replaced by my mother in law :)

I always felt like there was never a time where I could let my hair down, so to speak. The thought that I was being watched all the time stayed with me and I feared hell so much that I prayed and prayed that no matter what I did please don't send me to hell. What a crappy way to grow up. We are not raising our own children in this manner and I think they are happier than I was as a child.

I think it started slowly when I was in my teens. I started to re-invent god in my mind. I made him out to be a nice guy. Then I made him out to be a loving guy and that is kind of what started happening in the religious community anyway. Then it occured to me that if I can change the nature of god in my own mind then why would I want to think that he is real? I can change this person in my mind because this person does not exist. This little tid bit started to enter into my conciousness very very slowly.

It was a couple of years ago when I read Bill Bryson's book The History of Nearly Everything (one of my favorite books and authors). Not long after that I started watching Cosmos on the Science Channel. I would watch these episodes over and over again. I simply loved hearing Carl Sagan's voice, he became a sort of replacement god. What he was saying made so much sense and it was kind of what my mind had been telling me for a very long time. I had always had a kind of resentment for religion and the funny thing about that was that I was never, as a child, immersed completely into religion. We did not go to church, even on the high holidays. We celebrated the holidays, we said grace, we said our night time prayers and my dad would read to me from the bible from time to time. My favorite story was the flood and Noah. Loved that guy Noah. But we weren't heavy into it christians, just christians.

After reading Bryson's book, I started looking at science and nature with more intensity than before. I have always had a curious mind and I was always drawn to science, it was one of my favorite subjects in school, but I was told not to even think about a career in any of the sciences because I didn' t like school. Turns out I liked college, not school. Two very different things altogether.

In my travels on the internet and the library as well as documentaries and lectures I came across a lecture a professor was giving on his own atheism. I did not think that becoming an atheist was an option for me. At the time I was agnostic and thought I would remain there. When the professor described the nothingness after death it scared me so much that I rejected the idea out right. But as time passed and I began to think more about it and study more on the idea, I became used to it. It was okay to be afraid, this is a normal reaction to the idea that your life will end and you will not go on to any other place. It was a scary idea. But I am no longer afraid of what comes after, still don't like the idea of death, I do not know any healthy humans who do, but I am happier now than I have ever been in my life. When I let go of the whole religion and god thing, I found a world for me that I could never have imagined existed. I am constantly in awe of what I see. I am nearly always happy. I have my struggles and trials but I approach them with more optimism and knowing that my choices will have an impact on what happens and it is not pre-ordained by some faceless entity, then I feel more secure. I know that what I do and what I say belongs to me and me alone. I am responsible for my own actions for once. I cannot blame them on god anymore. Weird huh?

Sorry to go on so long but I know where you are coming from and I too feel the need to speak up. I intend to let anyone who asks me the truth about my own atheism. I had this idea that we as a group should start buying copies of Sam Harris' "Letter to a Christian Nation" and leaving them in public places for people to to pick up. Many of the copies will be tossed into the trash but a few will get read. It is what the Giddeons are doing by placing bibles in hotel rooms, the idea works.

We can all. as atheists, do this thing it only makes sense, because most people are reasonably intelligent and many will come to see what we see. It may take many generations but as long as we start the conversation and try to peacefully reason with people it will happen I am sure that in time religion will begin to loose its foothold on the human psyche.
I would love to believe that people are intelligent. I do believe that the vast majority are not however. The problem that I see most is that people, in general, are lazy. That's why we have drive-thru windows, net-flix, and pizza delivery. People don't wanna use their brains because it's "hard". We have to make them think.

Leaving something in a hotel room might change a few people. In my honest opinion most of them may have went on to become atheists anyway because they read. lol I'm sorry but, if a person enjoys reading (not many do) they would actually read the forsaken "holy" book and find that their God is an egotistical, racist, homophobic, petty, insignificant FUCK....

Sadly most people (especially us Americans) are in fact lazy. I think the only way to get them to read is to force them to. The way you do that is through challenging them in conversation. They will have to read in order to make a relevant argument. I can't tell you how many times I've been in a debate and heard even pastors say "I'm not sure but, I'll go home and read about that subject and get back to you."

That's how I have so far had 2 pastors drop religion. I have effectively closed 2 churches. I hope to close more. I'm not saying your idea is wrong. It may help some people ALOT. But one of the hardest things I have had to accept as a patriotic combat veteran is the flaws of my nation and it's people. We are lazy, ignorant, illiterate, mammals. I know I may be also catering to that but, religion does a much better job.

All you have to do to go to heaven is say you're sorry. You don't have to read. The preacher will on Sunday. You don't have to write a 500 word essay of apology to your deity or, better yet, the person you may have offended. Oh no, that would be to hard. All you have to do is think to yourself "I'm sorry God" and all is well. We have to be able to show people that it is equally if not more easy to be an atheist. Once they become atheist I believe the universe, as you stated earlier, is so amazing that they WILL then read. Out of sheer curiosity.

Does that make sense? Disagree? Agree?

By the way thanks for sharing your story. It is a little long as is mine but, when you take the time to learn where someone else is coming from, you gain more perspective on where you come from as well.
You've deconverted 2 pastors? O_O I'd love to hear more about that!
Like, what stumped the pastors that they had to look it up in the bible?
I wouldn't really call it deconverted. I'm not sure that's a word lol. I did convince them to drop Christianity. Both of them where African American. I simply showed them the verses in the bible approving slavery. Among other things. Most here are young earth creationists. So you show them plate tectonics and carbon dating along with radiological dating or even tree rings for fucks sake and they generally have to say "Let me read up on that."

Contrary to popular belief, priests/pastors are not generally educated. They have knowledge on subjects and I don't mean to call them stupid. It's ignorance. We where all once ignorant. What makes or breaks a man is their ability to admit ignorance and learn or re-learn something. There are many ways to stump a preacher. Especially with their own book.

I'll give another example. In Genesis God created Adam and Eve to populate the Earth. They had Cain and Able. We all know the story. What nobody seems to pay attention to is after Cain leaves the sight of God he gets married and has a child. I forget the child's name but, that's not the point. Who was this woman? Where did she come from? Did God create her? What God created her? If it was Yoway (mis-spelled feel free to correct me) why did God not mention it in the creation story of Genesis?

There are plenty of questions that you can ask directly from their own book to stump them. How was everything created? The second chapter of Genesis is very different from the first creation story. Why did God create Light and Dark and separate the two when "Dark" can't be created. It is the absence of light. How do you create something that doesn't exist? Of course the standard questions like where are the dinosaurs in the bible? And why does the bible (directly translated) say that the sky is in fact water? I got tons of these questions and they have absolutely no answers. It's rather easy to show them their beliefs are without merit and totally retarded.

If you need more I can give you more ;-)
Ah, thanks for the insight into the bible!
Oh I do agree. I have always been a reader but I have been reading more non fiction as a result of regaining my sense of reality. Mostly science offerings. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Brian Green, Sagan, etc.

I do agree that once folks pull their noses out of the "good" book they will most likely go nosing around in other books and that is a great thing.

Sorry about the length of the last post. I try not to do that, but I was on a roll.
No problem at all. I love hearing how others "came to the light" It helps me learn to bring others to it as well.

Have you read "The God Delusion"? (Richard Dawkins) It really breaks evolution down to terms we can relay to even the dimmest of the dim witted. Dan Dennet is also AWESOME!
Yes, I have read the God Delusion as well as God is not Great and right now I am reading Sam Harris' The End of Faith.

Have you read any Sagan?> Really great stuff. Try the Demon Haunted World first.
I have read some of his work. He is great. I never read the Demon Haunted World but, I'll put that on my to do list! lol




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