left biblioblography: STEPPING THROUGH THE GATES OF ATHEISM: MY PERSONAL JOURNEY PART THE ONE- MCDOWELL

Thursday, August 17, 2006

STEPPING THROUGH THE GATES OF ATHEISM: MY PERSONAL JOURNEY PART THE ONE- MCDOWELL

More often than not, I am riddled with queries about how I ‘became’ an atheist. As it is a long, involved tale, I am going to break it down into installments, for those of you interested.

Many years prior to my change-of-heart, I was a possessor of a baroque meritocracy, having dabbled in Wicca, the occult, and Kaballah (upon which I will expound later). Fact is, my mind was so open, I may very well have slipped on metaphorical gray matter and landed on my ass in a field of similes on more than one occasion. Short version: I believed just about everything I ever read. And I read a lot.

So approximately 2-5 years prior to my acceptance of the limited label of atheist, I distinctly recall saying: “Of course, the US is a Christian nation, founded on Christian principles.” A week (or a month?) later, it occurred to me that I should perhaps check that factoid, that maybe I was blowing smoke out of my ass.

Sure enough, after reading the three pivotal documents, I discovered that indeed, I was actually blowing smoke rings. Hey, I wasn’t married to the idea, I shrugged, went on with my life.


Fast forward in time: I had lost my girlfriend to a Christian cult (her ex-hubbie suicided, she went rushing back to them, despite their horrendous treatment of her during the divorce, another story), and my boss, a devout Christian who I trusted implicitly revealed to me that he’d been covertly plotting to get rid of me, fired me from my job of four years.

(At this point, I can hear the theists cry “Ah-HA! See! I knew you suffered at the hands of ‘false xtians’!” El toro poopoo: onwards).

So here I was: jobless, a six-year relationship gone down the tubes.

My close friend, who’d been born again, and I, began to have long, involved theological discussions via the phone. I was casting about, looking for some sort of anchor in my life, a beam of hope, some driftwood to cling to in the ocean of the world. I’d already had a pretty strong foundation in re: the bible. (Hell, at one point in my life many years prior I’d actually invited some Jehovah’s Witnesses in for a chat, and completely blew them away with my working knowledge of it. So much so, they never came back.) I even had some long discussions with him about the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, and he answered the questions so well, I stopped referring to it to this day (albeit, now I have a different slant on the whole thing).

I was all set. Praying, researching, I was prepared to give myself up.

The fateful moment occurred thusly: he offered to send me a bible (I asked for the KJV, because I love the language in it: yeah, I know, it’s not a great translation). He also offered to throw in a book, which he told me: “You’ll love this book. Since you’re so analytical, and like to dissect things, this one’s going to be a favorite.” (That’s not verbatim – a paraphrase).

This, then, was the pivotal work: McDowell’s ETDAV. When it arrived, I read it. Twice, in fact.

There were so many problems with it, most of which I couldn’t put my finger on. JM came out swinging on alternate POV’s, for one. He called Voltaire ‘an infidel’. The sections on Zen Buddhism (zeroing in not on the philosophy, which I was well-versed in, but Suzuki’s work), post-modernism, existentialism in short, JM bad-mouthed so many other world-views, I was sort of flabbergasted. I’d never even heard the term ad hominem, or petitio principii (I learned the latter from JM).

I began seeing the innate problems with the logic JM used. Even without having a degree, or any sort of educational background, I could tell there were holes in the logic. Big gaping ones. Having programmed computers over the last decade or so, I had some background in Boolean logic, so that helped tremendously.

My buddy, a Christian still, to this day regrets having sent that book. Had he but sent the KJV, you and I wouldn’t be having this natter.

So I began to do research. I looked at both sides of the coin. I began familiarizing myself with what I term the ‘Baskin-Robbins’ 1001 flavors of this club that I fancied joining.

And I started really reading Voltaire. My favorite Frenchman. That suave master of satire, whose pen and tongue even royalty feared. Short version: what a hoot!

That’s part the one. Next week’s installment: STEPPING THROUGH THE GATES OF ATHEISM: MY PERSONAL JOURNEY PART THE DEUS – HOLDING AND PAINE.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

17 comments:

Mesoforte said...

Hmmm... Which books did you read for the non-Christian nation. I'm interested in finding more proof than what I have.

You certainly have a more colorful origin story than I do.

Krystalline Apostate said...

MF:
Hmmm... Which books did you read for the non-Christian nation.
None. Just those 3 docs. That's it.
I'm interested in finding more proof than what I have.
I personally think that culling commentary in something like this leads to more confusion. I'm a minimalist: I go straight to the source, & puzzle it out myself.
You certainly have a more colorful origin story than I do.
Hey, more's on the way. Stay tuned. ;)

Mesoforte said...

Well, I was looking at the Constitution (no invoking of any deity, just by the people, for the people) the Declaration of Independence, (a surprisingly Deistic document (Nature and nature's god)) and just basic writings of the FF. That's how I understand us not to be a Christian nation. And certainly, we aren't foudned upon Christian principles, our Constitution draws on percieved wrongs that we experienced both as colonial citizens and ealier, it isn't even actually based in natural law (Deist idea). So, I've never really been able to draw a connection between Christian principles and US Gov. (in early times at least.

Mesoforte said...

But yeah, you're probably right, no more comments on the founding of US gov. ^_^

Krystalline Apostate said...

MF:
But yeah, you're probably right, no more comments on the founding of US gov. ^_^
Well, most of the red herrings that come from the xtian crowd are claims of being based on xtian 'values' (we're actually based on English law, which was existant before everyone became xtian).
& sometimes we need to plumb the fathoms of what the SC has ruled on, past & present.
Lawd knows, I've gone a few rounds w/old phreddy elsewhere on this.
Were we founded on strictly secular principles? No. But by no stretch of the imagination is this country based on predominantly biblical ones. I'll be touching on this in the 2nd or 3rd installment.

Maggie Rosethorn said...

Boy, I can't wait to read the next installment. Haven't ever been able to get into Voltaire myself, but my daughter, who had to read him for French, thinks he's a hoot, too. Maybe I'll try again.

say no to christ said...

Ra

We are too much a like, its almost scary. I came about my atheism in much the same way. I really truely tried to become a christian, but I had to understand it first. I too pick things apart to get to the heart of things. It seems people were much more tollerant of your questioning, not so with me. I think it was because I'm a woman and you know we're not supposed to talk in church muchless ask those hard to answer questions. I got banned from one church and some of the people that knew me egged my house, screamed horrible things at me in front of my kids and they even cursed at and excluded my kids from even the neighborhood events.
Well, after all that I turned toward the pagans, afterall they had always been a part of my life some how or another growing up and never ever treated me badly for asking questions. In fact they encouraged all my questions and did a damn good job at getting them answered for me and never ever tried to convert me to their beleifs. I was told to find my own path. Gotta love the pagans! And even after professing my atheism I am still accepted and my views respected. Really our veiws are so similar that there really isnt anything to argue about.

Amy

Krystalline Apostate said...

Amy:
We are too much a like, its almost scary. I came about my atheism in much the same way. I really truely tried to become a christian, but I had to understand it first. I too pick things apart to get to the heart of things. It seems people were much more tollerant of your questioning, not so with me.
Well, there's a difference here. I mostly spoke to my buddy. I didn't go out & ask a lot of people about it. There WAS a point where I & my ex-gf were 'shopping for churches' (the Inglesia ni Christos had excommunicated her for divorcing her alchoholic, abusive hubbie). But my entire 'deconversion' narrative was done almost completely on my own.
I got banned from one church and some of the people that knew me egged my house, screamed horrible things at me in front of my kids and they even cursed at and excluded my kids from even the neighborhood events.
That's just awful. All for asking questions?
Churches usually have major league control issues.

Krystalline Apostate said...

maggie:
Haven't ever been able to get into Voltaire myself
Here's a good start -
http://oll.libertyfund.org/Home3/HTML.php?recordID=0029#hd_lf029.head.028

say no to christ said...

Yeah, I did that whole shop for a church thing and that is how I got kicked out and told never to come back again. It was the same church some of my neighbors went to. Anyway, I just asked about Lilith for crying out loud. I had watched an A&E's mysteries of the bible about Adam, Eve and Lilith a few nights before. My point was that if she was a part of ancient Jewish beliefs than there had to be more to the story of Adam and Eve. The whole Adam and Even story has NEVER sat well with me. Even in middle school I rememeber saying things like 'Eve was framed and that men made it up to blame women for their bad deeds' and so on. So, I guess maybe I wasnt a good prospect for any church. But I still did try to become a christian I just didnt like what I was being told at every turn.

I think my pagan friends were my biggest influence in making me want to question. In their religion women are the cats ass, the end all, the everything, without them there is no life. So, it was very easy for me to see that the bible was extremely sexist and hateful all I had to do was read it and the more I read the more I was appalled and disgusted.

At that point in time I still believed there could be a higher being, but it owed me a LOT of explanations. I'm sure my bitterness at the time didnt help.

say no to christ said...

Oh yeah, and along my way to atheism I tried many different religions like Wicca, buddhism/Zen, shamanism and I even dabbled a little in Hinduism. Thats what I meant about being so much a like. You got to try them all before you can say with confidence that all of them are full of shit. ;)

Krystalline Apostate said...

SNTC:
Oh yeah, and along my way to atheism I tried many different religions like Wicca, buddhism/Zen, shamanism and I even dabbled a little in Hinduism. Thats what I meant about being so much a like. You got to try them all before you can say with confidence that all of them are full of shit. ;)
True enough: I never truly immersed myself in 1 (though I could beat people over the head w/scripture, if the mood took me).
Every person's map is a newly-discovered topography: unique as the individual.

say no to christ said...

Ra

I never fully immersed myself either. It was just too wierd for me, especially after researching christianity and finding it all bunk. The more I learned the more I more I pulled away from all religions. I just cant leave well enough alone. I have to pick EVERYTHING apart. I have to know the origins and everything else before I completely commit myself to a religion. I have to say I do agree with and practice some pagan traditions like the worship of nature(not with rituals just respect and love)the undrestanding that EVERYTHING in this world is connected and that life is a never ending cyrcle of recycling. My death will give way to new life in many ways. Just things like that.

Maggie Rosethorn said...

Thanks for the Voltaire link; I've bookmarked it and when I have time I'll sit and read the whole thing. Looks interesting, on a fast skim. Today was recover from vacation and tomorrow is supposed to be partly sunny and the motorcycle is calling...

Krystalline Apostate said...

SNTC:
I have to say I do agree with and practice some pagan traditions like the worship of nature(not with rituals just respect and love)the undrestanding that EVERYTHING in this world is connected and that life is a never ending cyrcle of recycling.
Couldn't agree more. In the hustle & bustle of civilization, sometimes people forget their roots.
Maggie:
Today was recover from vacation and tomorrow is supposed to be partly sunny and the motorcycle is calling...
Hmmmm...I hear a movie title in there: "I heard the Harley call my name..."
(Strains of 'Born to be Wild' in the background).
;)

bay-of-fundie said...

What are your issues with the Skeptics Annotated Bible? I love that site and consult it whenever I need to look something up.

Krystalline Apostate said...

bay-of-fundie:
What are your issues with the Skeptics Annotated Bible? I love that site and consult it whenever I need to look something up.
Hey Ron, thnx for coming by.
I'm going to have to go back & review. At the time, me lil buddy did answer all my queries, but blast it to smithereens, I took no notes.
Problem is, I'm a little past the bible-bashing stage at this point (or maybe I'm kidding myself? Time will tell).
It is a good reference point. Maybe I'll change my stance on that 1.