Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A new train of thought has left the station.

A reader writes about his new life:
Just a note to let you know I have enjoyed your site. I was raised Baptist and Pentecostal, and it's taken many years to undo the programming. Then I had a drinking problem and fell in with very fundamentalist variety of Alcoholics Anonymous. I'm still de-programming from that experience, as the motivation to make fundamental changes in my lifestyle drove me deep into the "AA" way of life, which in retrospect looks (and feels) like belonging to a cult.
I have heard that AA can be very cult-like, and that it shares much in common with religion. See 12 Steps to Destruction for a Christian condemnation of AA. Unfortunately, the writers of that book do not seem to be aware that the same criticisms they hurl at AA could be spoken of their own religion.
I wish there were a God, but agree with you that there is no evidence for one, either within me or the world around me. I've had many experiences that I attributed to God but I wouldn't stake my life on it now. On some level, to me, it also takes faith to believe that matter and energy sprang out of nothing, so I guess I'm not a die-hard atheist. I just don't believe that I'm supposed to seek and incorporate "God's will," whatever that is, into my daily life. Whether or not there is a God really doesn't matter that much.
That is the point where I stop also. What caused the universe? If someone were to claim that the universe cannot exist without a creator, than how could God exist without someone to create him? It strains the credibility both to believe in a self-existing universe or a self-existing God. If we must conclude that either the universe or God was self-existing, then I find a self-existing God to be no more likely than a self-existing universe. And I leave it at that.
I'm wondering if you've ever read any of the books in the Conversations with God series by Walsh. He posits that God does not intervene because no matter what harm befalls our bodies and psyches, the important part of us, our soul, is always safe. We return to earth again and again, each time trying to better express our true nature, which is made out of the same stuff that God is made of. This is a somewhat comforting paradigm, but unfortunately his books also contain a lot of stuff that makes no sense or is just off the wall (for example, that our bodies were designed to last forever and that a man who eats and drinks better and achieves better emotional/mental health would in fact live forever).
Well, I am sure that is interesting reading, but I see no evidence for a soul that survives for another pass. This basically sounds like reincarnation, which I find no evidence for.
My "descent" into near-atheism has wreaked havoc on my marriage. My wife is no fanatic, but she does believe in god and Christ and attends nearly weekly. It's just something we don't talk about very much. My views and beliefs were changing when we met and married, and I had no idea how much more they were going to change. It is like you said, there is no stopping a mind set free. A train of new thought has left the station, and it has plenty of momentum.
I understand the experience. The first steps of skepticism are regarded simply as doubts, and one is taught to have faith in spite of those doubts. So one learns to speak in faith, and not fully express the doubts. But when the reasons for skepticism are deeply ingrained, it soon becomes obvious that the effort to keep them in check through faith is deceptive. When one comes to the realization that the doubts are stronger than the faith, and that any show of faith is deceitful, and therefore decides to come out of the closet, it can come as a shock to loved ones who find themselves suddenly learning that they are in a close relationship with an infidel. That can be very stressing. I think that many de-converts keep an outward show of faith simply because the strain of telling the truth can be so stressing on a relationship. But somehow, it seems best to me to speak the truth.

I hope that your new train of thought will lead to a wonderful world.


Michellebelle said...

AA is a cult,it is a religious cult but its far from being christian.AA destroys relationships...good thing you got out.My husband is being brainwashed.

MICHAEL said...

I originally got to AA in 1974 and drank after nearly 11years...AA doesn’t keep one sober. I actually attempted suicide before I drank, and after my suicide attempt was unsuccessful, I drank to kill the pain.When I eventually recovered from my suicide attempt and "bust" I went back to AA, because it was familiar. I imagine AA to be quite controlling, which was very much like my history. In 1994 I started seeing a therapist and he helped me process my feelings. He is a recovered alcoholic and had processed his own history. Anyway, I did years of group therapy and EMDR. [Body Memory Therapy].All I knew from my childhood was terror, pain, shame, and guilt and I was able to feel these feelings and get support by other people in my group. About 3 years ago, I dropped into a "black hole" and had to be hospitalized.... I had 4 months of absolute terror; I thought I was in hell. One day I asked Jesus Christ {not a bedpan} to have mercy on me and forgive me my sins. Slowly all my fear and guilt has dissipated and today, I am just, Micky [A child of God]. What I had learned – my process in Hospital - that is what it was like for me as a child [METAMORPHOSIS]. I am not an ALCOHOLIC - I am a SINNER. AA [Satan] nearly got my soul but Jesus Christ the Son of GOD delivered me. I am blessed - because, I had to lose control to gain control [JESUS CHRIST] which has nothing to do with handing my will over to a higher power. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life John 3: 16].
Peace Be With You