Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

Correlation is not Causation

34 Comments

Emotions and Internet Psychoanalysis

There are a few bloggers out there with whom I feel a kinship.  It’s because we’ve experienced some of the same things, shared some common traits, and in some ways invested into one another’s lives – even from a distance.  I do think I get them and, in turn, they get me.

What makes a person think that within just a few comments, or having read through a few blog posts, that they have me all figured out?  They know what I need.  They know why I believe as I do.  They know why I left faith behind.

It’s because I was hurt by the church.  My particular flavor of Christianity was abusive – but not the others.  I should try on a different size if that one didn’t fit.

I loved my church family.  I loved the people I went to church with.  I still love them.  We just don’t have much in common anymore because I no longer believe as they believe.

I protest that being injured by believers is the reason I lost my faith.  It was only after leaving my faith that I realized how detrimental belief in the Christian God and the Bible were to my well-being.  Hindsight is always 20/20. But, no, I don’t see myself as a victim of other well-meaning believers who are slogging through this life as best they can.  Just like I am.

Well, if it wasn’t that then it must be because I was displeased with God.  I found his neglect unpalatable.  Surely, that’s what it was.  Again, I protest this notion.  I thought I was talking to God everyday and, moreover, I was quiet so that God could speak to me.  I truly believed I was hearing what God said.  No, never audibly, lest you think I’m completely bonkers.  But through my training and study I learned to “hear” God in the everyday, mundane, things of life.  Circumstances, prayer, scripture, and other people were God’s form of communication.  It was only after I lost my faith that I realized just how hidden God is.  Hindsight is 20/20 after all.

I was recently told these things with regards to my apostasy:

“There are far better ideas of Christ than you have ever known and that you are now unwilling to consider. It’s too bad you got hurt and now have a claque that supports you in your rejection of Christianity. Still, who knows, except your imaginary friend, how it will end. I continue to have hope for you.” ~Waltsamp

“What I think I have found is a person who has expended a great amount of time and effort, and whole lots of words, to create for themselves an impregnable worldview.”

“My supposition that you left Christianity because of some painful experience is apparently wrong. From some of what you have written perhaps it was dissatisfaction with God neglecting you or displeasing you or not measuring up to your standard (although this last one is pretty silly). Perhaps it was that you found Christianity had defects. People have been finding reason not to believe in Christ for 2,000 years so it’s unlikely you found a new one.”


Understand me when I say, yes, I was hurt by my religion.  Yes, I was neglected by God.  But, no, I did not leave my faith over these things. I know very well that my feelings – good or bad – nor my pain have any bearing on truth.  A portion of my pain was the catalyst for giving credence to my doubts.  There is a correlation there, no doubt.  However, my doubts gave way to questions for which there are no good answers.  What kind of faith is it – what kind of God is it – that cannot stand up to scrutiny?

When I began to ask the hard questions, for which I have not found adequate answers, I was unable to close the lid on Pandora’s Box.  I couldn’t put the genie back in the bottle.  I couldn’t unlearn the things I had learned.

I’m quite well aware that there are people who can do that; people who can reconcile the answers to the realities of life with the magic of belief.  I have been unable to accomplish this feat, despite my attempts to do so.

No, I have not found any new reason not to believe in Christ.  The reasons are, as stated, 2,000 years old. That doesn’t mean they aren’t good reasons. What I will say in response is that people have been finding reasons to believe in Christ for 2,000 years so it’s unlikely a new one has been found.

I could say by my interaction with those who believe that I know why they believe.  I could write it all down to their need for an emotional crutch.  Or perhaps it’s their death anxiety.  Or maybe need a scapegoat for their behavior.  Perhaps it’s because they can’t cope with reality.  Maybe they’ve found that the world has defects.

The fact of the matter is, none of that speaks to the truth of Christianity or a god of any kind.  Ultimately the reasons I no longer believe have nothing to do with any perceived injury, slight, or defect of Christians, themselves.  After much consideration, many sleepless nights, hand-wringing, and even illness over it, ultimately, I find the whole of Yahweh and Christ to be implausible.

Do I have an impregnable worldview?  I would say that the fact that I’ve reconsidered everything I believed to be true and changed my mind on at least one occasion should dispel such a notion.

If one wants to challenge my beliefs I’m prepared for that.  I do not have all the answers nor do I pretend to.  I am, however, extremely unlikely to be swayed by emotional appeals and scare tactics.  Bring me evidence, bring me logic, bring me reason and we’ll have something to discuss.  Leave the emotional extortion and psychoanalysis out of it.  My emotions are not taking me over. Correlation is not causation.

 

**You’re welcome, Ark.  I know how much you love the Bee Gees.
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34 thoughts on “Correlation is not Causation

  1. This -> “What I will say in response is that people have been finding reasons to believe in Christ for 2,000 years so it’s unlikely a new one has been found.”

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    • Indeed. My first thought was, “he’s right; the old ones work just fine.” But then Ruth kind of beat me to it..

      What kind of faith is it – what kind of God is it – that cannot stand up to scrutiny?

      This so hard.

      Bring me evidence, bring me logic, bring me reason and we’ll have something to discuss. Leave the emotional extortion and psychoanalysis out of it.

      This too.

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      • So often I can well remember the admonition not to poke the bear. Only study the Bible and Biblically “sound” materials. Doubt leads to disbelief. It’s a slippery slope.

        Umm….okay….

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    • Do believers not realize that a lot of the so-called arguments cut both ways? People have been believing for these 2,000 years and [mostly] on nothing more than subjective feeling and emotion – not any real evidence.

      Believers in Christianity have poo pooed the subjective experiences of other faiths – Muslim, Hindu, Buddhism, Wiccan, Voodoo, and the list goes on and on. Yet, the proponents of these have miraculously overcome some medical emergency, bankruptcy, addiction, and again the list goes on and on.

      The power of the mind is very misunderstood. Placebos work in medicine as well. If a person believes this or that will work, voila!, it does. The power is in the belief, not the object of it.

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      • “People have been believing for these 2,000 years and [mostly] on nothing more than subjective feeling and emotion – not any real evidence.”

        We have to remember that personal experience, including feelings and emotions, is the last to go down the drain with the dirty bathwater. I don’t want to speak for all former believers, but for me, yes, personal experience was the last to go, and at the time, this was as “real” as evidence got. Of course as you point out, hindsight is 20/20, so I can clearly see that the “answered prayer” back then was merely me looking for “signs” that God was indeed “there”. I mean, I wasn’t just talking to my ceiling fan. No way, and “God” confirmed this by answering “yes” to my prayers(or answering “no”, or answering, “you’ll have to wait!”)

        But there’s that “light bulb” moment when that little voice goes….”Silly!…that was you subjectively validating your beliefs! Hello?… confirmation bias?”

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        • No way, and “God” confirmed this by answering “yes” to my prayers(or answering “no”, or answering, “you’ll have to wait!”)

          Ah, yes, the old shell game. I remember it well.

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  2. I hope I’m a part of your ‘claque’!

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  3. I am always fascinated that “believers” believe that if we don’t believe what they believe, there is something wrong with us. We were hurt, we were disappointed, we didn’t try hard enough. It never occurs to them that putting all of their beliefs into some sort of supernatural deity and mythologies and an everlasting existence is what they should be calling into question.

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    • Yes, many(not all) of them believe in demons, devils, angels, spirits, not to mention talking donkeys, virgin births, a man being raised from the dead and floating off into the sky, and an invisible being who controls it all. But we’re the ones who are crazy. 😉

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      • “many(not all) of them believe in demons, devils, angels, spirits, not to mention talking donkeys, virgin births, a man being raised from the dead and floating off into the sky, and an invisible being who controls it all.”

        Right? Yeah, the reason that we changed our minds about Christianity couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the fact that we were unable to square-up walking cadavers, knocked-up virgins, and talking donkeys, with reality. Nope, ‘couldn’t be that. So, it can only be that we wanted to “sin”!! Yes, because everybody knows that if you want to live dangerously without any consequences, you can just stop believing in consequences..e.g..the consequences of “sin”, and your troubles are over! For instance, the other day I stopped believing in gravity because I wanted to go skydiving with no ‘chute! [/facetious].

        “[….] I got divorced shortly before my apostasy [….]”

        Oh? I’ve got news for you, missy, you were never really married!

        = P

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        • Well, hello there, you slippery ol’ serpent! Love the new monicker!

          So, it can only be that we wanted to “sin”!! Yes, because everybody knows that if you want to live dangerously without any consequences, you can just stop believing in consequences..e.g..the consequences of “sin”, and your troubles are over!

          Oh? I’ve got news for you, missy, you were never really married!

          Well, there ya go then. I obviously turned my back on my faith because I wanted to sinny, sin, sin!

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          • “Well, hello there, you slippery ol’ serpent!”

            Slippery… and legless. Because I’ve been punished. Because not being able to run after rats is a huge inconvenience for a snake. To fully understand my handicap, think of how it must suck for fish to have to swim

            “sinny, sin, sin!”

            Hilarious-sssssssssss = P

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  4. Very nicely said. I can, at the very least, appreciate the greater difficulties you must have experienced in first questioning, then shedding belief being in the deeply superstitious US South. You felt more friction than I, or most, I suspect… More blowback (and probably appeals to not walk away) given the geography of the journey.

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    • I haven’t been very public about my apostasy for that very reason. And the fact that I got divorced shortly before my apostasy gave a good excuse as to why I was no longer attending church since my ex still attended our “home church”. So by the time I had effectively defected from Christianity most of my former friendships and connections had already been severed.

      I moved from my hometown to a town nearby. In the neighborhood I moved to just over a year ago I’ve only had two people even mention religion to me. Once shortly after we moved in and then about a week ago one of our neighbors asked us to come to revival. I smiled and thanked her for her invitation never indicating that I would come. Of course, those two encounters don’t include the JW’s who visit every so often. The last one of those got the, “I’m an atheist”, talk.

      Still I feel pretty isolated…

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  5. Pingback: Correlation is not Causation | Christians Anonymous

  6. “What kind of faith is it – what kind of God is it – that cannot stand up to scrutiny?”
    That thought is what gave me the courage to start my on my journey of skepticism. If something is true, it will show itself to be true no matter how hard you poke it.

    Glad to have found another connection!

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    • Thanks for commenting.

      Well, I needed a bit more help than just a healthy curiosity. I had to get over my fear of hell first. But, yeah, if God or Christianity doesn’t hold together when viewed under a microscope then maybe it’s worth considering it might not be true.

      Glad you came over!

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  7. I would take issue with the last comment of the third quote (in my case). It’s a similar circular argument to one over on Violet’s.

    It’s not that people have been finding reasons to not believe in Christ for 2,000 years. Rather that some of us, not all, eg you and Victoria for example, haven found any reason to believe in any of it. Nor am I going to look for one.

    But the argument posited is that of a theist. There is a god, his phoenix of a son, plus a holy spirit swirling around somewhere (in someone’s glass?) and that is the default that has to be unbeliever, which is true in the case of deconverts or whatever the word is. The position of a never-believer however, is much simpler, there is nothing to reject, no reasons to find to disbelieve because there is nothing there in the first place.

    I assume, knowing nothing about it as I do, this is why theists put the burden of proof onto atheists to prove there isn’t a god. Which to us is ridiculous. And so, from the opposite side of the coin or fence or some other metaphor, we expect theists to prove that there is a god. Well, those who are interested do. I don’t give two hoots.

    This very basic and simple yet totally dissonant world view is why the twain shall never meet. Each thinks the other is fundamentally wrong because the starting points are at opposite ends. There endeth my Sunday sermon 😉

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    • Well, you are right about each thinking the other end is fundamentally wrong. Theists presume a God. Atheists presume the opposite. The question is, though, is it really a presumption? For some I suppose it is. For others it is the conclusion of carefully thought out reasoning.

      You are also right that, not only have people been finding reasons not to believe, there are people, such as yourself, who have found no reason to believe. That probably seems like splitting hairs to a Theist, but it is an important distinction.

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      • I’m getting a bit sick of predictive text turning me into an incoherent idiot! I suspect I tried to write ‘unbelieved’ which, not being a proper word, ended up as unbeliever. 😦

        I’m not sure it is a presumption either. People come to religion in many different ways. People leave it, and some never embrace it. Some expend a lot of energy on justifying it or rejecting it. Some don’t, again, on both sides.

        As for the last point, theists assume that atheists have rejected religion, which is my point about it being regarded as the default. It seems to me outwith their understanding that people can genuinely have a blank canvas and simply say, not interested, without needing to prove anything or find reasons to justify why they aren’t interested.

        But if I can grasp the position of the theist and the apostate I’m mildly offended that my default position is not acknowledged. It’s intellectually disingenuous.

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        • If I had to guess, from the Theist’s perspective, they believe that god-belief is a given. I really do think it is terribly hard for them(and for me if I’m honest) to conceive of a person who has just not found anything compelling about religion at all.

          Having sought to understand your perspective on it I think I can grasp it to a certain degree, but for those who are truly given to believe in a God or gods I just think it’s impossible.

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          • Believe me. It’s very easy. If you aren’t exposed to it, ie pretty much brainwashed, it’s irrelevant.

            So we had religious assembly at school, I thought it was a waste of time. Stayed in bed twenty minutes longer or went to a coffee bar, or sat with the other reprobates in one of the Sixth Form rooms – they stopped chasing you to go by sixth form. I mean, before that, people hid all over the school to avoid assembly! Fascinating. There were one hell of a lot of rebels at my posh school. It was boring and irrelevant. Might as well gossip and swap homework. Far more use.

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          • To which I reiterate my envy. Which is probably why most Americans find it hard to relate to your situation. The level of indoctrination here is off the charts.

            And as for being unacknowledged, I understand your frustration. It’s like when believers say that I was never really a Christian, or that I am still a Christian but am going through a phase.

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          • I used to think a lot of European people just went through the motions to meet varying norms and expectations eg familial, societal, sense of belonging etc. In retrospect, I think some of them may well have believed in their religion, but as with so many, very much on a pick and mix basis. I always found Catholic Christians far more easy going (all of whom were on the pill and had sex before marriage). Methodists were a nightmare. One politician I worked with on the newspaper said,’I think X would be really nice if it wasn’t for her religion…’ He had such a puzzled look on his face it was comical. The Methos were the ones who shoved it in your face and did the ‘why don’t you believe in god, Jesus loves you and he will save you’ routine.

            I think the reaction to your, what must have been a very difficult decision, would be very annoying. I didn’t have one to make, or even think about. But to reject everything you were brought up to believe and be told you weren’t really Xtian or that it’s a phase is totally belittling and patronising. Makes you sound like a cranky teenager and you’ll soon grow out of it.

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          • It is belittling and patronizing. And those who propose this “answer” to the dilemma have no idea why.

            Take waltsamp, for example: he has offered up sincere apologies for angering and aggravating me having no idea why I might be aggravated or angry. I’m not. Haven’t been in the least.

            His latest offering:

            https://gulliblestravelsdma.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/why-i-left/#comment-5946

            And he would have no idea what might be wrong with that.

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