Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Religion and I.

As a very young child as best I can remember, we had no overt religion. In the mid 60's, I was 7, my parents started to go to Mt Lawley Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) church in Perth West Australia). I went along trusting my parents and the church. When I was 14 we moved to Port Moresby ( Papua New Guinea ) I attended the SDA church there. I got baptized , left school , went to Sydney ( Adventist hospital) and did a nursing certificate. Had a great time, lovely people.

After completion of nursing certificate I moved to Warburton ( hospital) Victoria Australia. I became even more religious than before. After a few years the Des Ford stuff happened,  I left the Ellen as literal prophet, sanctuary/ investigative judgment dogmas but otherwise held the rest of the SDA views.Hearing these three things repeatedly in church I decided ( for biblical reasons ) to stop going , it felt wrong to me. I Moved the Sydney, again . I remained a Christian, attended a few church things but not SDA .

I stayed with those views until 2008. As a ( still ) young earth creationist Christian I started to read the so called new atheists with a view to debunking them. The next year I desperately, frantically read about 100 books on all I could think of to get to the bottom of this. By 2009 ( 1030 am August 12th) I realized I was an atheist now- oops. After a year of painful readjustment to this I moved towards being an "evangelical" atheist - bordering on anti theist. I became very active in atheist forums, joined various atheist groups etc.

After a while I realized more fully, that there are awful atheists and nice ones. My next step was issues based, ie work with those that would help make the world a better place whether or not they are religious. Basically my current stance is "the people who are good to other people- I'm with them". Maybe I am mellowing? Dunno, my most recent position is to worry about those who might need a religious view as comfort etc. I'm seeing the usual "arguments" approach as generally not going anywhere (in the short term at least?) Sometimes I think it's scarily easy to introduce doubt. Is it a good thing? Yes and no I think, depends. Where am I now? The question of whether or not the gods are real holds no interest for me anymore. The question of whether or not people believe there are gods matters not to me. How people behave matters very much to me . Are they good towards others? How people convert to a religious view or leave that view interests me a lot. Should we actively try to sway people? Sometimes I'm not sure.

Perhaps paradoxically, religion still holds my attention a lot, I still read rather a lot on religion related topics, and yet I am finding it increasingly difficult to discuss this. What I mean is that my mode of questioning religious views automatically finds its way into conversations on religion and I worry that some people really really don't want their religion questioned. Perhaps it gives them comfort? Perhaps they need it? Perhaps they are right? These days I am starting to get reluctant to discuss religion in person unless somebody else brings it up. I am fine online but in a face to face scenario it feels more and more like playing with fire. I had the rug of belief pulled out from under my feet, against my will (via philosophy books, atheist books and religious books. I don't buy the idea that atheists are happier than believers ( in general). My feeling is a tad like Nietzsche's "If you wish to strive for peace of soul and happiness, then believe; if you wish to be a disciple of truth, then inquire.”

What if we can't choose?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Evolution Impossible by John Ashton . Book self destructs by it's own logic.

Evolution ImpossibleEvolution Impossible by John F. Ashton
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Not as bad as Ken Ham, it's actually worse! ie John Ashton actually does know a lot of science, alas he allows his religious superstition to overrule massive amounts of data that points away from his young earth creationist views. the very cover announces a straw man, "reasons why evolution cannot explain life on earth". Seriously misses the boat here, ( he sides with Noah).

It's all downhill from the cover. He wants his science cake and eat it too. eg when genes of parts of them get deleted or don't copy - its information loss but when there's extra genes copies or insertions tadaa its not added information.

The book is a wonderful study of how intelligent people can get derailed by religion. To believe that Noah's flood was real, you don't have to be an idiot, sometimes it takes a lot of work, other times it's indoctrination.

Not worth wasting time doing a serious review of this awful book, basically its lying for Jesus ( albeit unwittingly I presume ).

For a better look at this awful book see ->

View all my reviews

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Great Disappointment Version 2.0

Desmond Ford pictured with Blog author Peter Veitch.

The Great Disappointment Version 2.0
(From Little Disappointments Big Freedom Grows). 

Over three hundred people attended this Des Ford Q & A afternoon meeting. It was held in the Church in the trees uniting church in Morisset, (just over 100km north of Sydney Australia) yet only minutes away from  Avondale  college Desmond Ford's old stomping ground where he was head of the theology department for about 20 years or so. Adventist administrators were given the first offer to host this event but predictably refused. 

As far as I knew I was the only out atheist ( ex SDA)  attending, and I was late! I had flown up from Melbourne to Sydney, then train to Morisset. 3pm meeting, my train arrives 309 pm, arghh no taxi! I jog walk jog to the church, unfashionably 15 mins late, I will be noticed…very well, I will be noticed. Fifty yards to the church, engage music on speakerphone mode “Losing my religion”, ok, in hearing distance, turn it off. Church is packed, people standing outside, not enough seats.. is there an empty seat down the in the front row? Yes! Is it ok if I sit there? Yes.. it begins…

Slowly I walk down the central aisle,  wearing “proudly evolved atheist T shirt with a Darwin fish / proudly evolved atheist logo, will I be noticed? Not all ex SDAs are still christian, my presence a gentle reminder of that. I get to the very front, turn around and look at the audience, just enough time to show the front of the shirt. I sit, pretty much directly opposite Des. 

I planned on asking a question, I had rehearsed it, even showed it to Peter Dixon ( event organizer/ muso click link for song )  to see if it was ok to ask that. My heart was racing, why did it feel like Daniel in the lion's den? I don't even think that story was true.  “Do you ( Des) accept the literal six day creation as true”? yay somebody else asked it for me, phew that's a relief! In retrospect I think it was probably better that the SDAs asked this anyway.  Des had to say no of course. (His view isn't young earth creationist yet not evolution by natural selection, sort of in between, a version of so called "ID" etc)  I could feel the tension in the room after that. The nervousness in the voices of the questioners etc, thinking that particular line through, IMO, has much greater implications for the SDA sect than the IJ dogma.

I didn't expect as much overt preaching during the Q&A, argghh. It was my first time in decades in a church with a minister actually preaching , albeit in snippets. How did i feel? Was any of this real? Felt quite bizarre really, unreal really. An honest person ( Des) sincerely expressing some of his deepest held convictions! It didn't sound plastic, didn't feel plastic.. and yet … the direct expression of what I now see as religious superstition? -  talking like it was a given, that the asserted magic stuff actually happened? I suppose it was a given for most if not all of the attendees minus me? I was in the front row, I had to  try not to let my eyes roll, this isn't easy for me, I let the religious nonsense ( as I saw it) slide, tried not to yawn ( double difficult due to tiring travel up from Melbourne) . Some of the preaching made my skin crawl, was I that far out of it? I know that Des believes that stuff but to me, now, it fells like somebody talking about Thor or Zeus as real etc.

One person asked Des a question about his view on atheists , I was surprised to hear something like that here. That was a good question - no, it was a wonderful question, it deserved applause, oh what the heck, I did a slow loud one person clap, I stood ( from the front row) turned around and looked at the questioner, and continued to clap ( I no longer felt so totally out of it! Yes, there are good open minded people here, I was impressed, I was grateful, I let it be known.  Des did an answer that was basically: as long as atheists responded to the holy spirit and were nice people then yay ( more of less).  TBH I think the question was better than the answer but c’est la vie, I don't quite get how I am supposed to respond to something that I can't tell exists or not. Anyway,  Des not sending atheists to hell is an improvement over the usual SDA responses.

My overall impression? Mostly nice people trying to figure stuff out. I got the sense that most wanted to be open minded but may have been only willing to  consider reconsidering the "Investigative Judgment" dogma but little if anything else. No data or survey, just a hunch, I could be wrong. It seemed like some tried to pin him down on the SDA YEC creation week as real or not. ( I was going to ask that, it was my prepared question! and yet maybe it wasn't, ie I’d have had a congratulatory stamp on it whereas I think they seemed to have it as a negative frame ) - maybe even as a trap question? The overall range of questions wasn't bad I guess though all seemed soaked in a priori religious assumptions.

Would Des accept an apology ? - no, it would have to be more than that, he said that they would have to acknowledge their dishonesty ( I can't see that happening, seems a bit of painting himself into a corner maybe?) I suspect that if they adopted Des’s views on Adam and Eve, a creation week, Noah and boat etc as not literally true then maybe the church would explode, implode or fade away .

Apart from pushy YEC fundamentalist pushing tada evolution is impossible - the others that chatted with me, were real nice people with what I surprisingly noticed to be rather open minded! Was I that arrogant / ignorant to not know this? Maybe the church has already changed since I left in the post 1980's Des Ford aftermath? It was a special treat to meet and chat with Des’s daughter  Elènne,  what a delight! she is very nice, gentle, caring and clever etc … win ! She insisted I met and chatted with Des in person. She even arranged and took the pic with Des and I. ( Now wouldn't that be amusing to get in the spectrum mag or others? 

Après meeting. Dinner at Punjabee's with a bunch of SDAs and ex SDAs, excellent. none of that them and us stuff- it was just ..."us", there was no "them" .

Saturday ( sabbath for most) Feb 6th 1016
Links for the two relevant Des books below.

Investigative Judgment - Des Ford

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Atheist goes to adventist hospital class reunion.

Sydney Adventist hospital nursing class of 75 reunion. 

It was a mild and warm evening as I drove to the Stuart’s point adventist convention center on the north NSW coast (in Australia). Forty years had passed since we started our nursing course, more than ⅔ rds of my lifetime. Nothing had changed, everything had changed, I started, as did most of the class, as a pious adventist christian, now I am an atheist activist, how will this weekend go?

I was nervous, very very nervous, I had missed out on a lot of sleep worrying over this, I even broke out in shingles ( was it stress induced, unmasked? I don't know). On my own, all the more so without a “God”, long lonely drive up from Newcastle airport to the sleepy little coastal town. The convention center is a ways out of the tiny town, I arrived just after sunset … it was their sabbath, no longer mine. The lovely receptionist handed me the key to my rental cabin, no business allowed, payment would happen later, adventists don't do business on their sabbath. Hungry, back into town to buy fish and chips ( it was a fishing village after all ). They wouldn't approve I expect.  Also the center apparently bans alcohol on grounds. Handy tip : nice little tavern that sells take away drinks. I would see red that weekend, but only in a nice way, red in moderation shall we say.

    There they were, those same gorgeous wonderful people that I had started my first nursing course with. How many were still sdas? Did it matter? News was out, I’m an atheist, might have been my Darwin - evolution  T shirt or some other news on my various apparel. mostly met with ”oh”or simply ignored, not a problem ( yay, what a relief)! Goody, now we can just get along, and we did. Lots of hellos and hugs, all good, very good. The occasional person would start up with evolution is a lie, or let me pray for you or wouldn't you rather go to heaven etc  It did feel like a time warp, they were still them ( mostly) yet I wasn't the me that I was 40 years ago. Stood out like a sore toe I did. Secular was the flavour for the most part, how are you? Are you married? How are the kids? Has life been good to you? Plus there was coffee, phew, caffeine withdrawal off the cards.

In retrospect I needn't have worried, apart from the occasional prayer before a meal , said ahem on behalf of all of us … I had to announce “I abstain”, and my Evolution Shirt photobombs it was pretty darned good. A few came up to me and said they were still christians but no longer adventists, others said they weren't religious. Did “God”come between us? I don't think so.

Stuarts point convention centre  

Sydney adventist hospital

( first draft, i may or may not edit / addit)