The God Switch is Off

God_Switches1I have been involved in magic in many ways.  I was once was a charismatic Christian who spoke in tongues,  an acupuncturist, and then a homeopath.  It took me a while for me to see through my self-deception in these areas, but after I saw my way out of those ways of thinking, I was pretty good at avoiding similar temptations.  It is as if I turned off certain self-deception switches.  And those switches never work again.  I no longer heard god, felt Qi flowing out of me and into others, nor could perform shamanistic homeopathy to amplify the placebo effect.

I use to do some pretty amazing things with acupuncture needles — I need to post more on that.  But I doubt I could pull those off any more because I no longer believe.

God_Switches2Us ex-Christian atheist bloggers often have Christians accuse us of rejecting a false Christianity. They claim that their flavor of Christianity is true (or better) than our former sects and that perhaps if we’d had not been exposed to the false teachings of our former Christianity, we may still be Christian. They pity our rejection of Christianity as a whole only because we tasted one or two bad Christianities instead of real Christianity.

Theology_KnotWell, they may be right.  We may still be Christians only because it would have taken us a little longer to see through their theological knots.  But for me, I really think there is no hope now because I have turned of some important God switches. To mention a few, I no longer believe the following:

  • god(s) can talk or communicate to us
  • miracles happen
  • gods or spirits intervene in the world
  • believing in gods will add any value to my life
  • there are privileged scriptures
  • there is any added value in using god-jargon

So no matter how tasty they feel their flavor of Christianity would be for me, the broken switches I mentioned above would probably not go back on.  And I am pretty sure that no matter what flavor of Christianity they embrace, one or more of these switches are important for lighting up their religious play arena.

I use to do some amazing things with my Christianity but I doubt I could ever pull off those things again since there is so much I couldn’t possibly believe again with any integrity.

Questions to readers:  Have you ever had switches like these turn off in your life?


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

22 responses to “The God Switch is Off

  1. I’ve turned off a few switches myself, but honestly I’ve also switched some other ones on. I was born and raised Catholic, and left around when I went off to college, but I didn’t stop my study of theologies in general. I’m a creative thinker, and as a child I embraced the stories of Christianity because I thought they were good stories. When I realized I was trying to build my life on those stories, I wondered how other people used other religions besides mine to do the same. So in college I took the chance to learn (since I was practically forbidden to consider the study of other faiths as a child).

    To me, all religions are pointing to the same place, and even non-religious who focus on logic and sciences and history are also going the same way. We all have our own path to the same place, death. Some people want there to be more, some people don’t. But I think we all are intrigued by the questions of where we came from and where we are going.

    So I turned off the Christian switch, but at the same time I turned on the philosophical switch of theology. Instead of rejecting all the theologies, I have done my best to embrace them all, not on a personal level, but on a general level. Religion does play a big part in some people’s lives, and who am I to deny them that? They convince themselves their belief is truth, and who am I to tell them it is not (at least for them on a personal level)? I don’t have to agree with their beliefs to respect them. So yeah, the Christian switch is off and the power is pretty much cut, but that’s just at my house, and my house is still very well lit by my philosophy switch, and I’m all the happier for it. 🙂

  2. I agree with you Rana and unless confronted by a religious person, I enjoy the lighting of my neighbor’s houses. Here on the internet, we enter at our own peril. Here, information matters. I’m not your neighbor, you can walk away. I am not in your face. Here we can talk about things without coercion or lasting offense.

  3. So true. It greatly amuses me when people take things said on the internet so personally when they could just get up and leave! Go for a walk! Read a book! Anything! It’s also very depressing at times to see people take it so seriously as to make themselves miserable wallowing in it.

    My fiance posted a blog today about teen suicide and how incredibly stupid, pointless, and wasteful it is. He is for some reason a suicide magnet; his personality has for some reason always screamed therapy. This is the threat of the internet, and the generation of parents which didn’t understand the internet and therefore had no way of understanding their children’s reaction to it to keep it from destroying their children’s lives just confuses the heck out of me.

    …sorry, tangent. XD

  4. Nan

    “They claim that their flavor of Christianity is true (or better) than our former sects and that perhaps if we’d had not been exposed to the false teachings of our former Christianity, we may still be Christian. They pity our rejection of Christianity as a whole only because we tasted one or two bad Christianities instead of real Christianity.”

    On my blog, there was an individual who claimed just what you wrote. Even though I was in the Christian faith for over 15 years, she insisted I was not really saved. She even went so far as to say the churches I attended were heretical. Apparently her god gave her special powers of “discernment.”

    BTW, I turned off the Christian switch several years ago. Strange how my life is even brighter now …

  5. Nan

    Oops! Forgot to “close” the italics after “really saved.”

  6. Marc

    You are one sick conceited individual Sabio. Get you head out of your ass, and have a little humility before you have to give account to your maker.

  7. Well put, Nan, for me too: ironic that when the switch was turned of, the room because more bright and beautiful. I think many of us had that experience.

    @ Marc,
    You are probably right! 🙂 There is a whole bunch of us sick conceited hell-bound souls — which I hope my banner honors well. BTW, that is a comment policy violation. For comical purposes, I will let it go this time. You’ve been warned.

  8. Marc

    I appreciate your willingness to post my comments in violation of your policy. I enjoyed reading you biographical material, and I think you could use your considerable intellectual and literary gifts to write a very good autobiography. You might be surprised to know that I believe that most if not all people will come to their senses and inherit eternal life, so I do not believe that you and other sick conceited souls are bound for perdition. Reflecting on one of your observation regarding religion being like a garment. A garment can be a uniform that sets people apart for various reasons. Wearing the uniform of a health provider that you and I have both done says that we are prepared to care for anyone whom needs our attention. Wearing the uniform of the clergy can send very mixed messages. Wearing the garments of a soldier or police officer sends a very different message. I appreciate the very rich experiences of life that you have had and share, I just do not think your atheist position is reasonable.

  9. Sabio – yes, interesting points! I had a switch like that, in fact a pretty serious one. I worked many years ago at a large inner-city animal shelter, and euthanized probably more than 800 animals. I’d say 70% cats, 20% dogs, then the rest were bunnies, chinchillas etc.

    Years later reflecting on it, I remembered I had a very strong justification for why it was okay to kill all those young, friendly pets. I had the darnedest time remembering exactly what it was. Then it came to me: if I wanted to work at that shelter, it was a requirement of the job. End of story.

    Now granted, that was just a fact. But looking back, I could never do it again and I’m pretty horrified I agreed to do that. I will say I do not regret working there, because it changed who I am as a person and it was vital to me that I tried shelter work (for the record, no-kills euthanize also).

    So while it’s a crucial part of my life, that switch is now off, permanently.

  10. Marc

    I must admit that I do not understand how you could have such a conceited and arrogant approach to life and faith as a health care provider and world traveler. Maybe you should have experienced the military Sabio. You would have learned some very valuable lessons in humility there.

  11. @ Marc,
    You might consider reading my post on “threaders” and then the link to “Share Thyself” and consider my suggestions there to set up your own blog. Then you could tell all kinds of senseless atheists why their positions are unreasonable. And we could see exactly what flavor of Christianity you embrace. Also, may I suggest that besides avoiding sanctimonious slander, try to pay attention to the post content when you comment.

    @ Amelie,
    Fascinating example. Experiences change us, even if we’d never do them again, we may also not want to give up the changes they wrought. Well put!

  12. @ Marc,
    There you go — calling me conceited and arrogant. Last warning.

  13. god(s) can talk or communicate to us

    Even when I was a Christian, I could never get that to work for me.

    miracles happen

    In a way, they do. But they have mundane explanations.

    As a young Christian, say around age 12, I took people’s word for it that there were miracles. But I found it hard to understand, unless I assumed that the time of Jesus was a very special time.

    As I read more, it became apparent that miracles were actually quite common at one time. The occurrence of miracles seemed to dry up once scientists started seriously examining them. That gave me a clue as to what was happening, and my increasing skepticism about miracles was part of why I dropped out of religion.

    gods or spirits intervene in the world

    I never did find evidence for that. I looked hard, but whenever I saw a possible case, I could see that I might be deceiving myself.

    believing in gods will add any value to my life

    I can’t rule that one out. People find value in life from lots of things, including Sherlock Holmes or Harry Potter.

    there are privileged scriptures

    I don’t think that I ever believed that.

    there is any added value in using god-jargon

    That might depend on the crowd that you mix with. That is to say, the “god jargon” might be useful for communicating with some people.

  14. Marc

    Sanctimonious slander Sabio? This is an old tactic used by people who have no defense for their own positions, so they accuse others of what they do all of the time. Enjoy your self delusion.

  15. Sabio, excellent post! I feel exactly the same way (as you know from my previous comment).

    I think you misunderstand the tone of Sabio’s post. As a former Christian, I can understand how some of what he said might sound arrogant and blasphemous to you. But I also know, as someone who has left Christianity, that that’s not his intent.

    Lots of people talk rather flippantly about Scientology. That doesn’t mean we’re arrogant for not believing in Thetans, or whatever Scientologists believe in. It’s just something we don’t find believable.

    Think of it like this: let’s say a kid is scared of the monster in his closet. His dad casually walks to the closet to show the kid that there’s no monster, and the kid panics, worrying about what will happen to his father. The child’s dad is not going to treat the situation with the same gravity, because he has no reason for thinking there’s an actual monster in the closet. That doesn’t make the father arrogant or careless, even though it may appear that way to the child.

    Does that help at all? I think you’re angry with Sabio for something he hasn’t done.

  16. @ Neil Rickert,
    Yeah, my point on god-jargon is that once the switch is off, the god-jargon becomes irreparably impotent. To repeat my last paragraph:

    I use to do some amazing things with my Christianity but I doubt I could ever pull off those things again since there is so much I couldn’t possibly believe again with any integrity.

    @ Nate,
    Marc feels real comfortable calling me (and other atheists) conceited, arrogant and sick, because we don’t believe in his bogey-man. But when I label that “sanctimonious slander”, he is shocked!

    I’m not sure your explanation will help. The same mentality that causes Muslims to want to kill those who draw pictures of Mohammed, is chattering in his brain. The felt offense is probably the same.

  17. Marc

    Nate, thanks for your thoughts. I over reacted in frustration to some things that Sabio said. I can assure you Sabio that I support your freedom of speech, unlike the Muslims who would lob off my melon as well as yours because of our beliefs.

  18. Thanks, Marc. 🙂

  19. I like the switch analogy. I often use the Matrix comparison. It’s too late to go back and take the blue pill.

  20. @MichaelB,
    Your analogy is even better: After swallowing the red pill, you can’t go back and take the blue one.

  21. Earnest

    I find my god-switch is a rheostat, turned higher and lower by the intensity of bad things that happen to me that are beyond my control. When my life is in order, my godly thoughts fade into obscurity. A foxhole conversion continuum of sorts.

  22. LOL — this is very common, I am sure.

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