Religion to the Rescue

life buoyA month or so back, a local couple, after spending time on the Oregon coast and becoming engaged, were on their way home when they were involved in a car accident.  Tragically, the accident took the life of the newly-engaged young woman. Her new husband-to-be suffered neck and brain injuries and was nearly paralyzed. He has now recovered enough that he’s been able to return to work (finance manager), but has several surgeries still in store for him.

In a follow-up article about the incident, a news reporter from the local paper interviewed the young man. He is unable to remember driving home or anything about the accident. The reports are that he entered the center turn lane, apparently to pull into a small community located off the highway, and crashed head-on into an oncoming car. Some people who happened upon the crash pulled the couple out of the burning vehicle and reported each reached out and grabbed the other’s hand as they lay on the ground. Both were transported to the closest hospital, where the young lady was pronounced dead.

In the interview, the fellow reported that although he’s getting better physically, it’s been much harder to mend emotionally.

And then he commented (and this is the point of my post) that while growing up, life for him was very matter of fact and logical. He felt no need for religion or faith. However, after the accident, he said he felt faith was his only real option. Rather than find comfort in, say, alcoholism or drugs, he chose to find strength and comfort from God.

Such a transition in worldview is not unusual because this is how the religious world paints the portrait of “God” – the helper, the comforter, the one who takes away the pain of life. What most fail to recognize is the power to heal (emotionally and physically) is within ourselves. We don’t need some supernatural power to step in and make it all better (besides, in reality, it can’t).

Certainly, circumstances often make this life a very rough road to travel, but as many, many others have proven (my mind goes to Zoe, Victoria, and Ruth), it can be done. I just find it sad that so many fail to recognize this.

From Atheist to Believer

atheist-agnostic-religiousJust read an article entitled, “Your atheism isn’t going to keep your kids from believing in God.”

I was not raised an atheist. It was more that religion simply wasn’t that big a deal. My father was a lapsed Catholic, my mother was essentially a non-believer. As a young child, I was “taken” to church (Catholic due to my father’s Basque, very religious, family) and later I was enrolled in catechism classes (which I left … another story, another time).

As I grew older (12? 13?), for reasons I don’t recall, I purchased a red-letter edition bible. I was in a stationery store (where I used to love to hang out) and saw this bible with a white leather-like cover and gold lettering, “Holy Bible.”  I thought it was so pretty … which, now that I think about it, was most likely my motivation for buying it. Once I got home I placed it on my headboard in a conspicuous location (remember, I thought it was pretty).

On occasion, I do remember taking it down from its exalted spot and thumbing through the pages. Of course the red letters grabbed my attention but mostly I stopped at Psalms to read a few lines … because they made me “feel good.”

At this point in my life, I think I had a vague feeling there was a god but that’s about as far as it went. It wasn’t until many years later, after I was married, that circumstances in my life turned me towards (big-G) God (also a story for another time).

Anyway, the above-mentioned article intrigued me since it reminded me of my own situation. In one place, it asked: “Do kids raised without religion actively seek it out and convert all that often?” The answer surprised me. A 2008 Pew survey indicated only 46 percent of those raised in religiously unaffiliated families (which includes atheists, agnostics, and those who say they’re “nothing in particular”) remain unaffiliated as adults. Another study using the same data found that only 30 percent of people explicitly raised as atheists (excluding other unaffiliateds) remain so as adults. An updated study (2012) raised the unaffiliated rate to 53 percent. The article does state these measurements are not perfect, but they do indicate somewhat of a trend towards religion vs. irreligion.

I have my own thoughts on why this happens, but would be interested in hearing the opinions of others. Especially those who are in or have experienced this in their own families.

Neuroscience Explanations For ‘Spiritual’ Experiences – Part 1

For those who favor the verity of religious experience over the credibility of science.

Victoria NeuroNotes

Note:   People of faith who appoint themselves protectors of “true knowledge” may find this information disquieting.  From a personal perspective, I found it not only liberating but empowering. The Dalia Lama, who’s been working with neuroscientists at MIT , has given a thumbs up regarding this research I’m going to present here. He states that what has been discovered about the brain’s role in mystic, and religious experiences is illuminating.

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The Truth Is Not Always As It Seems

In the November issue of the Costco Connection magazine, there was an article by John McManus, a communication professor and longtime journalist. He is also the author of Don’t Be Fooled: A Citizen’s Guide to News and Information.

In the article, he made some points that I fully agree with and have even mentioned in other posts on this blog.truth

When faced with information claiming to be factual, consider:

  1. The source. Who is behind the message? Is the source independent (free of conflicts of interest)? Is the source an expert or experienced in relation to the topic?
  2. The motivation. Is it really informational or is it an attempt to sell something, someone, or a point of view? Many “persuaders” cherry-pick information to make their case, omitting relevant contrary information.
  3. The evidence. Does the information come from direct observation? Does it logically support the claims that are being made? Does it include/magnify heart-tugging anecdotes to make it more compelling?
  4. The contents. Is anything left out? Are inconvenient truths missing?

It doesn’t matter what your persuasion. Don’t believe everything you read or hear just because it validates your personal beliefs. Do the research. Learn the facts before you repeat the information. This is especially true when it comes to religion and/or politics.

Keep in mind that the “truth” is not always as it seems.

Leaving Christianity – Oh What A Relief It Is!

Oh What A Relief It Is!Although I left Christianity over 20 years ago, it took a long while for me to erase the doctrines that had been embedded within my consciousness for 15+ years. It was not an easy road.

As Stephen Van Eck wrote on the Deism.com website: “Once sucked into the parallel universe of Christianity, [a person] is too intimidated by threats and rationalizations to attempt escape. Even thinking along alternative lines will induce severe feelings of guilt.”
Writing my book helped tremendously because of all the research and reading I did. Learning how and why certain doctrines of the Christian faith (e.g., final judgment, burning fires of hell, Satan and his demons, the end-times) were introduced into the faith was extremely liberating … and removed a ton of guilt and fear.

I also found out some things about the Bible. As many others, I had been taught the Bible was “God’s Word” (even though the interpretation of what “He” said varies considerably among denominations). Through my studies, I discovered that much of what is in the bible is the result of stories, epics, myths, legends, proverbs, etc. that were passed by word of mouth from one generation to another. This is particularly true of the Hebrew Bible, but intrinsically typical of the New Testament scriptures as well. Can you imagine the burden that was lifted when I found out I wasn’t genetically inclined to sin and thus in need of someone to save me from being human??!?

Contrary to what one might think, the many discoveries I made did not turn me into an atheist. However, I definitely do not believe in a supernatural being who lives somewhere “up there,” who can be manipulated by prayer, or who has a “will.” Rather, my image of “God” is far more encompassing and has nothing to do with religious belief. In fact, I’m extremely reluctant to even use the word “god” because of all its connotations.

In any case, I find my life so much more fulfilling now. Truly, what a relief it has been!