Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Decon: 10 - How to debate a scholar -1

For people who are regular readers of my decon series know that I usually write on the topic of deconversion for the general public. Not on how to interact or debate with scholars.

For my 10th in this series I decided I wanted to write one to address the intellectual crowd. There has been much talk in the atheist circles about whether atheists should debate other theists. Basically, theist can throw out all kinds of ridiculous things and the naturalist, atheist, then tries to use science to dispute the points. Hopefully to dispute them one for one. They put them up, science knocks them down. Bang, bang, bang.

Those debates have been going on for 100's of years. Considering where we are, I would say it is "NOT" working - wonderfully. What is needed is a new approach.

Also, I am not going to teach anything scholarly here. I am looking at the approach to scholarly debate. Not the content.
There are 100's of academic books, websites, theologians, and others far more knowledgeable then me.
I have written this post for the person who already has scholarly knowledge and looking for a new more effective approach.

Let me restate the concepts of deconversion again for new readers.

1. People did not get their religion by argument, you are not going to deconvert them by arguing with them either.
2. One of the most powerful words in the English language is the word AND.
3. You listen to what they have to say
4. You agree with them by saying "AND"
5. Then you mess with their mind. (see my other posts for more ideas)

*Also, one critical part to this process is to understand an old saying
"If I say it, it might be true, BUT if they say it, it MUST be true"

When you go to debate a scholar, you have to keep in mind your goal. You are not going to get deconversion to happen then and there. As a matter of fact, the scholar is NOT the person you are interested in. You are interested in the audience of the debate. The scholar is well read. The scholar is well rehearsed. The audience is there to learn something. The are there to learn some good points to solidify their position, whether they are on the atheist or the theist side.

We are coming to this debate for one reason only. To work on deconverting the audience of the debate. Period. For our purpose, we are not looking to win the debate. We actually want a draw. We want people to come away with questions, confusion and not quite sure who won the debate. That is how we measure our success.

For a scholarly debate, we have 3 tactics that will help us win our goal.

First, we have no points/ideas to put forward. None. Absolutely nothing to push, sell or prove. We came to this debate as Socratic debaters. We are going to only ask questions, and the other person is going to make points for our side and against our side. But we don't put any significant statements forth.

Second, we use only their tools and their language. We don't go into science, naturalism or any of that. We strictly use books like the bible, Qumran, dead sea scrolls, and other ancient writings. We take these as FACTS. We talk more sources than they do as facts and we take it off the deep end. Do not deny this stuff. We want them to be denying the bible. We want them to be denying these ancient writings. They deny this. They deny that. Deny, Deny.

Third, and most importantly, we mess with their minds. We take some of the wackiest, craziest stuff from their sources and present it as the fact it is (to them). If in a traditional debate, the theist might normally throw out 15 things for the atheist to dispute, you go "oh yeah" - "AND" - then you continue on down the rabbit hole. Now the audience is not going to hear you focus on those 15, instead they are going to hear you rip through 25 more. 40 things just went through the mind of the debate audience.

When you are done your debate, the audiences head should be spinning. They don't know which side is up. All they know is that was some freak stuff that was discussed in there and I need a Bible fast. They are thinking "I got to get this stuff figured out fast before I forget it".

Are you kind of getting it? At the end of the debate you are going to have entire audience reading sections of the bible they may have never read in their entire life. Sections their minister or pastor never talked about. They are going to be really questioning their faith as they think about these questions.

Best of all, those folks who don't go running to the bible right away, have these questions burning a hole in their brain for days, weeks or years. So your deconversion worked. If they go to the bible quick, you win. If they wait, you win.

You see, you did not win in the debate. You win later. That is what you want.

A good deconversion is like a glass of tea. The longer it goes, the stronger it gets. And even if you take out the tea bag right away, guess what. It is still a glass of tea.

I am going write several (I don't know how many yet) routines on this "debate a scholar" topic. This is just the first one.

It is time to get into fun.
-- One of the fundamental rules I tell my readers is to:
-- "NEVER let someone get away with using the generic nouns or titles in the bible".
-- They have to use specific names, or specific attributed names.

--So first rule of scholarly debate. "Names and polytheism in the bible."
--This just rips the fabric off the whole monotheism "thingy" that people love to kick around

-- This is one of the few decon routines that are not going to be in my normal "conversational" or "Socratic" style.

Rule #1. No such thing as "GOD" that is a title.
make them use Yahweh, El Shaddai, Baal, Elohim, etc must always be used.

As a scholar for the purposes of this debate, you should generally know:
Names of the various books of the bible, how many gods are mentioned in that section, and 2 or 3 names from there.
If you can learn all the names all the better.

So how does this work.
Let's say the debate gets into creationism. Oooh, love that one.
You can get into El the creator and Yahweh who is the misbehaving child with a bad attitude
and Sophia the mother creator
and talk about Ea, who is Yahweh's kind of brother
and how Adam and Eve will no longer be "One of us"
and get into God (have fun picking which one) having arms and legs to walk around in genesis
and in Samuel -Moses almost gets killed by God (which?), but Moses wife throws down some foreskins at Gods feet.


for the new testament. Jesus is not a first name is it a title.
There are tons of bible content about Jesus and Bar-Jesus.
Who was wearing the Christ hat at various point in the bible.
who went on the cross, which one? Was one of the Jesus a Son of Jesus (his offspring).

Tons of good stuff. I am not teaching someone how to be a scholar. I couldn't if I tried.
But what I can do, is show you how to take that knowledge you do have and put it to effective use.

Most importantly, since we are focused on deconversion we have to keep our goal in mind.
The deconversion of the audience. Not to prove how smart we are.
As a matter of fact, the real skill here is knowing the facts intimately, but exposing them in a sloppy fashion.

See if you present your facts and ideas perfectly, the audience can think about and dismiss your ideas
right then and there - in their chair during the debate.

If your knowledge is skillfully executed with carefully planned sloppiness,
it is like a razor sharp samurai sword.

Say you are talking about a particular section of the bible, say Samuel, then you start going on about Ashtaroth and Baalim, then you accidentally mix in a little Yahweh. Oops. Sorry, that god is not present in this entire section of the bible, I guess they forgot him completely. he he he. You get the idea.

--I hope you really get into the fun of messing with their minds.
--Deconversion is so much fun.

I will talk with you later


Monday, November 9, 2009

Podcast: 1 - Birth of a podcast

This is my initial post about my upcoming podcast show on deconversion. I have been talking to different people about the style of my "decon" series and how it lends itself to storytelling and conversations.

I have been investigating podcast software, music, hosting sites, audio equipment. Wow, there is a lot to putting a good podcast together.

I plan on being able to make some posts pretty regular on the development of the show. I have the working title, and as soon as I can secure the internet name, I will let folks know.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

YahooAnswers - The post that did not get deleted

This is the second post in the series on Yahoo Answers deleting my account yesterday (Fri Nov. 6, 2009) as an atheist answering religious questions on their site.

In the post that I was on:
Why do we have to be God's servants?

If I created a conscious, self aware robot I wouldn't force him to worship me. What kind of egotistical maniac is God anyway?

They removed my comments (see my other posts)
But this one (see image below) was acceptable, and had remained for 21 hours so far.

I keep my site rated PG-13 as much as possible.
I will not retype this text for search engines to find.
But I did post the image for you to see it for yourself.

Atheists - bad.
Talking about the 2 Jesus's in bible - bad.
This comment - ok.

At this point, Yahoo had been pretty active.
Since the night before, they inactivated my account
and deleted at least 2 other questions by other people.

But Yahoo organization left his post.
Even if they delete it later (still there for 21 hours so far),
Yahoo seems to be leaving this kind of post much longer.

this post is still there @28 hours, first word was changed to ******.
Account was not deleted, comment remains.

YahooAnswers - Just the questions

As an blogger and atheist, I am always looking for ways to engage people in discussion. I decided that I might go on to Yahoo Answers and contribute to some of the questions people were asking.

On Friday (Nov 6,2009 - yesterday), around 8 PM I had created my account.
At 10:15, I received the following:

Hello JackRussell8888(jackrussell8888)

You have posted content to Yahoo! Answers in violation of our Community Guidelines or Terms of Service. As a result, your account has been suspended.

If you feel you were not in violation, please contact our Customer Care and tell us why.

Yahoo! Customer Care

Please do not reply to this message. This is a service email related to your use of Yahoo! Answers. To learn more about Yahoo!\'s use of personal information, including the use of web beacons in HTML-based email, please read our Privacy Policy. Yahoo! Answers is located at 701 First Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94089.

Copyright © 2007 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved. Terms of Service.

I have posted the JUST the questions that I interacted with below.

I will discuss my answers to these questions in a separate post.

I do not have the exact text of what was posted,
but I will do my best to recreate my answers on another post to my blog.

Why dont Jews accept Jesus as Lord,and do they Believe that he existed? What about Jews for Jesus?
(No other details to the question)

What will happen if God and Jesus turn out to be ALIENS? - Yahoo! Answers
Like God when I see him in paintings he is like in a flying saucer, so is Jesus when he is taken up to haven don't you think it is like the mother ship sending an anti gravitational ray to pick him up. When Virgin Mary is impregnated don't you think is like an alien abduction and they artificially inseminate her, and when God destroys all these towns the ''angels''(aliens) might be destroying the city weaponry , and when the Nephilin or angels breed with female apes I think it might be aliens having sex wit the female apes. The flying fire charriots of the Gods might turn out to be simply flying saucers.

Who do you think of the following FUNDAMENTALIST AXIOMS? - Yahoo! Answers
They deleted this question

Am I psychic, or do I just have a keen eye? - Yahoo! Answers

Every since I was little I've alway been able to connect to people on a way deeper level, even if I had met them that very day. I can always tell what a person is feeling, and get a general sense on why. Just by being around a person for a few seconds I can tell if their purpose is good or bad & what type of a person they are. Almost as if they have some sort of a glow to them. I can't explain it. Anyways I'd appreciate any help. Thank you.

Why do we have to be God's servants? - Yahoo! Answers
If I created a conscious, self aware robot I wouldn't force him to worship me. What kind of egotistical maniac is God anyway?

What exactly is the "Christian way" - best answer? - Yahoo! Answers
(no other details to the question)

What is your opinion of 12-21-2012 ? Real or fake? - Yahoo! Answers
Do you think 12-21-2012 will be the end of the world? or do you think that it's a hoax to scare people?

ANY opinions are greatly appreciated! :)

Why should i believe in the bible? - Yahoo! Answers
there is much evidence showing it is not legit. God never summoned ppl to put together it. I find it to be a manipulation of the religion because ppl put it together not some god.

Did you know that 666 is in every barcode? - Yahoo! Answers
Each barcode has 3 guard bars, one on each end, and one in the middle, of each barcode. The UPC code for these guard bars is 6.Thy appear 3 times on each barcode so therefore = 666. On every barcode.

Christians:i get worried about god judging me.2 questions? - Yahoo! Answers
im a christian and i love god so much,but it says in revelation that he'll judge us on our deeds.And deeds are things that already have been accomplished.Won't everyone look at each other differently then now because of it? And i think i want to get to know god and do what he wants but,i keep breaking promises to him i need help with that?
Can u please answer my two questions thank you:P

Is a permanent loss of consciousness a bad thing? - Yahoo! Answers
It seems to scare people. The desire to live on is genetic... it spurs us to reproduce. Arguably, it spurs us to create all manner of things in an attempt to outlive our mortal bodies. Or to imagine a god, or a slew of them, to let us keep on keepin' on after death.

Fear of death is necessary to the extent that it keeps us from walking into traffic. But it doesn't have to be more than that. Why should the idea be frightening, when we lose consciousness every night while we sleep? We don't dream but a tiny fraction of the time in REM... the rest of the time, we're just... not there. Not our consciousness, anyway. And we really don't worry about it, 'cus we aren't there to worry. So why worry about the Big Sleep?

One of our contacts daughters has been diagnosed with the H1N1 virus. Can you send words of encouragement? - Yahoo! Answers
(This question was deleted)

Any holes in Eckhart Tolle's teachings? - Yahoo! Answers
I'm completely drawn into his message, at a dangerous level. My perception of life is just so different now, and for the better.

I guess my ego is struggling to take back control now and, thus, is having me write this question with the hope that logic and analysis will force me to rationalize the need for my ego's existence.

I guess my real question is: Is anyone else a half-baked, half-awake, but still unsure Tolle follower? It scary to keep shifting in and out of awakened-ness. When will I settle in to pure awaked-ness? I'm not trying to push it, but being in limbo makes me self-aware of how others are perceiving my erratic shifting between my former ego-dominated self and my realized presence.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Decon: 9 - Jesus was a poor magician

This deconversion routine, as always is not designed to be a scholarly work, but instead to be a way to bring questions. With questions comes research and that is what brings about deconversion.

Deconversion routines are not about presenting exact and expert facts, but offering some facts, and hopefully offering them in a sloppy way that causes the other person to have to look up your comments or citations. AND if you really did it well, they will want to get with you again to set you right.

If you are trying to approach deconversion from the point of argument and debate, I think you will find it pretty useless. People have been doing debates on religious topics dating back before Plato and Socrates. Deconversion is not about debate, it is about helping people recover from their religion. We can leave intellectual discussions to the professors at the universities, lets just go for results.

This is a topic that comes at people kind of sideways. Most people are used to looking at Jesus from the point of is he "of god", "of man" or even just a "fictional/mythical figure". We are going to answer "yes" to this. What I mean is it really does not matter. Before we get started lets review the basics of deconversion.

Let me restate the concepts of deconversion again for new readers.

1. People did not get their religion by argument, you are not going to deconvert them by arguing with them either.
2. One of the most powerful words in the English language is the word AND.
3. You listen to what they have to say
4. You agree with them by saying "AND"
5. Then you mess with their mind. (see my other posts for more ideas)

*Also, one critical part to this process is to understand an old saying
"If I say it, it might be true, BUT if they say it, it MUST be true"

So lets get started and have some fun. Deconversion works because we consider works such as the bible being true. We do not want to dispute them but embrace them. We want the other person to have to dispute, we take the material as is, but look at it in interesting ways.

Now I will have bet you have heard debates about was Jesus a magician, the magicians who visited him as an an infant. There is much debate on that, and we want people do dig into that. We are not going to play that game. Remember, agree and then mess with their minds.

We start this deconversion from an everyday conversation. NOT FROM A RELIGIOUS START.
We let religion stuff sneak into the conversation slowly.

Here we go...

* Do you like magic?
* Yeah me too?
* what is your favorite trick?
* Do you like tricks where the magician can make a person float or levitate?
* Have you ever seen a magician in a restaurant or bar? they do table or closeup magic?
* Do you know what a "load" is?
* You know, it is that secret stash that a magician hides his supplies?
* You have seen the magician who can keep producing cards, and more cards, and more cards out of thin air.
* He is secretly getting his loads so that he can make more cards appear but you are not seeing him pick up his loads.
* I mean at a bar or a restaurant, a magician might make some wine appear.
* Or maybe they will do one of these never ending roll tricks, where loaf after loaf after loaf appears.
* Making stuff appear and then more and more, do you know what that is called?
* That is called a "production" trick.
* You can produce gallons of beer from an ordinary newspaper.
* You could be at a company picnic and produce 100's of tuna sandwiches from nowhere.
* Tuna sandwiches are not that fancy but I bet you could make a lot of jokes around them.

---Tuna sandwiches. I bet you are thinking what is this guy talking about
---this sounds like the lamest deconversion routine
---But wait their is some madness to this insanity -he he he
---Some of you might have caught the subtlety I am letting slip, just a little
---What is a tuna sandwich made of (loaves and fishes) and production is occurring outdoors
---We are not saying sandwiches were given out in the bible,
---We are building a weak foundation for them to fall off.

* I don't know, food magic is just kind of lame to me.
* What about you?
* Would you be impressed the sandwich magician? really?
* I think best magicians can do some amazing stuff with fire, water, levitation. You know the big stuff.

* Production magic is one of the oldest forms.
* It was done in ancient China, Egypt and some of the earliest civilizations
* Wine and beer were favorites.
* Production is production, what it comes from is only part of the show.
* A magician might have a trick to produce 100's of gallons of wine.
* For one show he might set his loads so it looks like it is coming from a newspaper.
* For another show, might look like it is coming from one small pitcher of water.
* It is all in the setup.

---Are you seeing the setup here.
---Water into wine at the wedding. This is fun. But don't say anything yet.
---We have not gotten into the reveal yet.

* I personally like Criss Angel.
* When he does that trick of walking across the swimming pool and that girl swims under him
* There are even magicians who go around using magic from thousands of years ago
* Stuff like Chinese linking rings, or whatever.
* So much magic has been around as long as people have been recording history.
* Don't you think that magic is truly timeless?
* I thought so.

* I mean there is so much magic tricks written about in ancient literature
* Whether it was a trick by an Egyptian priest, a Caesar or even a guy on the street looking for some coins.
* Don't you think magic was something that was done by the highest of rules, to the most common of men?
* Magic was magic.
* I don't think there was a time in humanity where magic linking rings were real.
* I don't think the magic card tricks were ever real,
* or the ancient Egyptian trick where cut off the head of chicken then re-attached it

* Don't you think most scholars were right,
* then when powerful leaders were using magic they were using it to influence their followers
* Stuff like the Mayan sacrifices and stuff?
* the Maya's, Inca's, Aztec and others would routinely make living sacrifices and perform stage magic

---OK, we have now set the stage. And gotten them to most of the agreements we might want
---Time to get going....

* Personally, "I think Jesus was a pretty poor magician."
* "Do you think Jesus was a poor magician?"

--- I need to stop you right here. The above wording is critical.
--- The wording above sets up a mental trap.
--- We do not want to ask if he was a "good" magician. We want to ask if he was a "poor" one.

--- Let me ask you a question (actually let's pretend I am asking this question to a man)
--- "is this the first time you have been pregnant?"
--- uh, NO, uh er, YES, uh uh, NO, wait ... uh - Huh?
---Get it. It is a brain frying question. You can't answer yes or no, although it is a YES or NO question.

---"Do you think Jesus was a poor magician?" is a very powerful question.
---if they answer YES, then they are saying that the son of god can't pull of silly magic tricks
---If they say NO, then they are saying that "Jesus was a magician - and was good at it"

* to me, I was not that impressed with the wine/beer Production routine he did at the wedding.
* way too many people around, way too many places to hide your loads or tubing.
* Using water as the gimmick. I would have thought he would have used something like a rock or an empty pitcher.
* that would have been way cooler of a trick.
* Or maybe done the trick way out in the yard or field so people could tell that there was nothing around
* but he does it right in the middle of the party. Way to amateurish.

* I really was not that impresses with his "food" Production routines.
* he does it a couple times

* He does his five loaf routine in the dark and has all the people come to him.
* it is so obvious he is just staying near his "load",
* a good magician would have made it such that he could move around and you could not tell where the loads were.

* He does the same thing again in his "7 loaf" routine.

* But what gets me, if he was a good host, he produces dry bread and raw fish.
* He can do a wine production routine, why offer water or wine or some tasty beverage

* Don't you think one of the old moses fresh water routines could have been done or something.
* Dry bread. That's it. Dry bread. Oh yeah, some stinky fish.
* No spices, oh wait. Fire, yeah, fire is an easy one. Nope none of that either.
* Huh. Not much of a magic trick.

* What's that you say. That was a miracle. I hope your kidding me.
* we just agreed that it was a pretty poor magic trick.
* Now you are saying the miracles are even more lame than a poor magic trick.

* I thought a miracle would be wondrous. But dry bread. No butter. No fire, no spices.
* If this were a miracle, why did he have to keep giving bread to his disciples for them to hand out.
* Couldn't he have just stood back and they could have gotten for themselves to hand out.
* I mean if it was a miracle, why did Jesus have to give it to the disciples and then the disciples give it to the people.
* It is right there in the bible. He does not let the disciples get the food directly.
* Even a mediocre magician could pull off an identical magic trick with out having to have to touch each loaf or fish.

* well I am just thinking here.

* I mean these were magic tricks done thousands of years before Jesus' time.
* Did you think he a lot more than would have been expected and gave a well rounded Production effect
* Do you think a crowd of people that large really needed dry bread as much as they could have used fresh water

* So if you were a magician or miracle making person, what would you have done better?
* Heck if you could do real miracles, I would love to hear some really good ideas.
* Maybe wine, cheese, - We are talking miracles here.

* Well anyway, it was good chatting with you.
* I have to get going.
* I will chat with you later.

---Hope you all had fun with this.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Would you say you're spiritual? (Sorry you are an atheist!)

I am not an atheist - I am spiritual. Or I have heard it the other way as well, I am a spiritual person. I am not an atheist, I am maybe agnostic, or a deist, or a pantheist, or something.

I am sorry you are really an atheist. I know that word carries some baggage for many but it is time for a reality check.

My focus here is not definitions. There are plenty of those on the web you can look up. The people who come to my blog are often looking at questions of their own faith or those around them. My job here is to help those folks who need it with deconversion. Not into atheism, although that is exactly what my title of this article looks like. I do not have any answers. I have plenty of questions though.

Together we are going to look at some of these questions. And for many folks who cling to that word "Spiritual" will find that they were really atheists who were just kidding themselves and it is time they woke up to their own real beliefs.

How do you talk with someone who says they are "spiritual" or "deists" or some other non-theist word. Well that is easy.

Lets start with a little background. This blog is primarily focused on people coming from a christian or Abrahamic (Old Testament) type faith. Mostly because that is the area that I know.

I think when you get done here you will see there really are only 2 positions related to my topic of theism/atheism. Agnostic is actually a different question. Gnostic/Agnostic is about KNOWING, where theism/atheism is about BELIEVING. We are going to be looking at the believing side. I will state that for many people, they don't fully understand agnostic and consider it as a softer side of atheism. it is not. It is a totally different question.

People can be theists and gnostics, theists and agnostics, atheists and gnostics, and finally, atheists and agnostics. It is a statement of what you believe or don't believe and the other question of what you know or don't know. You can look up these words on wikipedia for more detail.

For the purposes of this discussion we are going to consider agnostics just another variation like deism, although there is a technical difference. Most people on the street just don't go that intellectual in their beliefs. My posts are written for the everyday person. People looking for more intellectual discussions should go to one of the more scholarly authors. My posts are about raising questions and helping people with their thoughts.

OK lets get going here

You are talking with someone and they tell you that they are not an atheist, but they are "Spiritual", "agnostic","deist", "pantheistic", "panentheistic", or something like that. Your job here is not to CONVERT them to atheism, but to help DECONVERT them from their current position. By giving them that freedom, they can make up their own mind if they are Atheist or not. It is not your job to tell them, but for them to discover it on their own. This revelation will likely not come during your discussion, but maybe later that night, or even weeks later. Deconversion is a process, it takes time.

Let me restate the concepts of deconversion again for new readers.

1. People did not get their religion by argument, you are not going to deconvert them by arguing with them either.
2. One of the most powerful words in the English language is the word AND.
3. You listen to what they have to say
4. You agree with them by saying "AND"
5. Then you mess with their mind. (see my other posts for more ideas)

*Also, one critical part to this process is to understand an old saying
"If I say it, it might be true, BUT if they say it, it MUST be true"

I also wanted to give you a couple favorite quotes of mine. They fit this deconversion routine perfectly.

"A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking" -Harold Fricklestein


"It's more fun to arrive a conclusion than to justify it." -Malcolm S Forbes

--Let's get the conversation started.
--The person has now stated something like above
--Let's say they stated they were a "Spiritual" person

* I understand you feel you are Spiritual, I really think that is great
* I know quite a few people who felt like that also
* I have a couple questions, do you have a minute

--We start with agreeing, setting some commonality,
--and finally making them feel comfortable
--Note: I left off the Found part of the Feel/felt/found process
--our techniques leave the "Found" to be in their words later on

* Why do you describe your self as "Spiritual" instead of being an outright Theist?
* Why don't you believe in an all powerful, all knowing, benevolent god?
* Did you ever find yourself having problems with questions like can god create a rock he cannot lift?

* Or can god create a cup of coffee to hot to drink? Oh wait, I can do that. Grin.
--lightening the mood a little.

* So you don't believe in a all mighty powerful god that interferes with the world?
* Is it more like you just believe that there must be something more powerful?
* You know it is not the god from the bible or these other religions, but you believe there is probably something else,something more, out there. Right?

* I can really understand that
--getting into agreement again

* since you say that you don't believe in a direct acting god, would it be safe to say that you are definitely not a theist, right?
* Some other title, just not a theist?
* I am not saying you are an "atheist", just something else, maybe like a deist?
--We let them come to the atheist position on their own later

* So you are not a theist? I guess that just puts you into the category of non-theists right?
* I mean you believe there is something likely out there, just not like a god in the bible or something?
* So within the world of the non-theists, there are typically the deists and pantheists.
* The pantheists say that god, nature, natural laws are all one
* Pantheist are also the ones that just say their is just "Something" else out there.
* The deists typically say something like god existed to create create the universe, but has not been back around once he got it started.
* So you would say you fall into one of those categories right?

* Right now, scientists have come to learn that the universe is in a zero energy state.
* Have you heard that right now, the scientist have figured out that there is as much positive and negative energy now as there was in the big bang.
* So here is my question, scientists have now shown that the universe came into being in entirely natural ways.
'A Universe From Nothing' by Lawrence Krauss, AAI 2009

* So here is my question, since science has show that there was no god needed whatsoever to create the universe, then I guess the deist position really is now an antique position.
* Wouldn't you say that a deist who's primary and key position is that a god created the universe then disappeared or for all purposes stopped existing, at least as far as we were concerned, is really sort of like saying the world is flat? Right?
* The universe was and is natural. Its cause was entirely 100% natural.
* So a deist who made their beliefs based on a god creating the universe, really is now nothing more than a naturalist.
* A deist may still want to claim that a god really created that natural condition.
* So many people want to have god as the first cause. But at least as far as our universe is concerned, nature itself is now known to be first cause.

* So you are thinking that the deist is really a non-starter. It just does not work anymore in today's world.
* the world is not flat and deists have lost their creator god.
* Since you are a non-theist, and definitely not a deist.
* So it sounds like maybe "pantheist" is probably right? right?
* That's kind of what we said in the beginning, you said you felt you were "spiritual", right?
* I mean that is really the idea Spiritual really means "pantheist" right?

-- remember, my quote above, most people just stop their beliefs somewhere comfortable.
--They just don't want to take it any further, it is often too scary for them to finish their thought.
-- Or maybe they just never took the quite time to give it more thought.
-- So far we have moved them from Theist to Non-Theist
-- Now we are moving them through non-theist, first through deism, then finally through pantheism.

--Remember my second quote:
"It's more fun to arrive a conclusion than to justify it." -Malcolm S Forbes

-- Justification is hard work.
-- But we are helping them do this in just a few fun minutes

... so lets continue...

* So remember, the idea behind pantheism is the idea that god, nature, everything is one.
* And the other variation is called "panentheism" which is slightly different.
* These two are like fraternal twins, so close to being identical, but not.
* Think of it like math. Pantheism is where GOD EQUALS NATURE.
* and Panenthiesm is where GOD IS GREATER THAN NATURE, or NATURE/UNIVERSE is contained IN GOD.

* Let me ask you a couple questions so we can figure out which you are.
* Don't jump ahead of me, OK?

* so if you are a pantheist or believe in pantheism then you believe that GOD is or equals nature.
* So if I were to state this another way you would say that god is physics and chemistry. God is science.
* God is the rock, and god is the trees, and is part of everything and everything is a part of god
* so then from this position, go can be pretty much defined as the fundamental particals in quantum physics. God is quarks, protons, gluons, and so on.

* Does that summarize what you believe god is. God is a bunch of physics particles?

-- Just knocked them out of "pantheism", one to go.

* So you don't think god is the stuff of nature, but something more.
* something bigger than nature
* so maybe you are in the arena of panentheism. Don't say yes yet.
* have a couple of questions before you decide that.

* So if I get your beliefs right, you think that a god exists
* and that god is not part of nature,
* so that means that god would have to exist outside the world of the universe.
* even one of the key beliefs behind panentheism is that the universe is inside god.

* so my question is this, scientists have figured out that the universe is something like 100 billion light-years across
--We don't really care what the exact size is here, just that it is big and finite

* There is all this emptiness, nothingness that exists outside the physical universe.
* My question is that nothingness that the universe is ever expanding through and into, is that what you belief god is.
* Is the god you believe in that specific nothingness just past the edge starting at 100 billion light years and going on off into the distance?
* So would go be made of that subspace structure that the universe is moving through?
* so your god would be the subspace structure of the universe?

* Oh, so it is not that subspace stuff that exists outside our 100 billion light-year wide universe and also permeates our universe.
* God would be something bigger than that, right?

* So if I understand you right, you have said that god is specifically not the physical stuff.
* and you also said that god is not the non-physical stuff, subspace kind of stuff, right.
* So would I be right that if scientists discovered some stuff under the subspace stuff that you would also not consider that stuff god either, right.

--Was that the door I heard? Yep, they just left panentheism. What's left? Just wait.

* Alright, I have to get out of here in just a minute.
* Just a couple more quick questions before I go.

* so would it be safe to say that god would have to be the non-stuff.
* God would have to be an empty void that anything could go into.
* If I am understanding right, as soon as god holds or is something, god can't be something else, right?

* You know how science and math folks are they love their numbers and stuff.
* Polythiests would be someone who believe in more than one god.
* Monotheists believe ONLY ONE theistic god
* Non-theist believe in a kind of imaginary/invisible god that exists
* Mathmatically you could think of them as "square root of negative one"

So we have pretty much covered the entire world of things that exist and can be defined.

* Pantheists you could say god IS the "square root of negative one"
* Panentheists you could say god IS GREATER than the "square root of negative one"

* And we have already said that god can't be any of these
* God would have to be looked at as the eternal empty container that anything could exist in, right?

* Uh, you know what?
* You just stated that you are a nullist. That is great
* Do you know what a nullist is? Ever heard of it?

* A nullist is someone who thinks that god would be like an empty math variable.
* It does not yet have a value.
* think of it like a computer person,
* who need to make a routine to loop from 1 to 100.
* they create a variable that is empty, then when the code runs,
* it replaces that empty variable with these changing values.

* Well that empty value, before the numbers go into it, is called being null
* That variable holds a specific defined value called null.
* Null is not unknown, it is a specific state, it is empty.

* I am sorry I have kept you this long. I really appreciated your time with me.
* Oh, by the way. That belief, being a nullist, is a very powerful position.
* That is great isn't it. To know exactly where you stand in your belief.

* You should go look up on the web this jack russell guy.
* he talks about nullism if you want to learn more.
* and just to help you understand clearly

* ...being a nullist, is a stronger atheist position, than 90% of all atheists out there.
* So just remember, you just decided that not only are you an atheist, but you are a stronger atheist than 90% of all the other ones out there.

* his website is .... (you know what to do from here)

* I have to go. Nice chatting with you. bye.

Wow, from vaguely spiritual to nullist/atheist in less than 10 minutes.
That was a lot of fun.

I hope you had a good time playing with me.


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Decon: 8 - Holy Crud, we just won/one!!! (hmmm?)

This hit me like a gigantic ton of bricks about 10 minutes ago. I had to sit down and get this written out. You know my approach by now, it all about agreement and mind games. This one is HUUUUGGGEEE. Knock it out of the park. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!

OK, enough of that already. What is it I am talking about?
If you have been reading my posts, you know that I say that I am a nullist. It is an even more powerful position than an atheist. It is a position of affirmation not of denial. It is coming from a position of "I believe in the null god" instead of saying "I believe in no gods".

I am not going to repeat myself in this post. If you need you can read more by going to looking for the tag nullism(maps to all my null god articles).

====Ok so what is the big news!!

I will let you see if you can figure it out for yourself. I bet you will get a big grin when it hits you too.

1. The strongest atheist position is the null god.
- Atheists say there are no gods, basically gods=0 (saying like in math )
- the nullist, takes an even stronger position and says gods=null
- sort of like an variable before a number is put into it.
- but that still is a specific value.
read my other posts. NULL is very, very powerful position. Way better than zero.

2. This part is not as important, but becomes important in later defenses
-Null value is sort of like the value infinity.
-it is both plural and singular at the same time.
-so if you say null god or null gods, you mean the same thing. null is null.
-null x 1000 is still null. Null +1 is null, null/1 is null, null/0 is null.

3. null god is the same as non other, not others, no others.
that is different from none. None means 0. Others mean 0 and all other values.
so if you say others, you are covering 0 and all non-zero values
an easy way of defining others is the range of assigned values.
what is the NOT(others) or what is the opposite of others?
Which comes back to not assigned, nothing, not assigned or null
not other is the same as null.

if you haven't quite got it, I am still not going to tell you my answer
but you might catch it from the next clue.

4. The bible says "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." (Exd 20:3)

... pause for dramatic effect ......

Now pick yourself up off the floor. Oh, wait not everybody got it.

Let me state this in plainer language.

5. We atheists now love the first commandment.
Well it repeated in all 3 versions of the 10 commandments of the bible
and it says this statement in all 3, almost exactly.
best of all, most versions, get it very close.

Let me re-write Exodus 20:3 for effect, but I like the original text unchanged.
"Thou shalt have ... no other gods ... before me."
"Thou shalt have ... null god ... before me."

6. This line now should make total sense why he would later state
"for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God" (Exd 20:5)

7. The bible already claims that the null god exists (3 times)

8. and you are supposed to put the "null god" AHEAD of their god.

I guess being forced to be in the number 2 position would make their god jealous.

I love this stuff. I hope you all have fun with this...


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Decon: 7 - Heretics and Infidels

This probably one of my favorite topics. It does not pack the same punch as some of my other Decon routines, but carries a very sharp edge. I would recommend folks use this carefully and you can get dramatic results. Use it aggressively and you will only get an argument.

Let me restate the concepts of deconversion again for new readers.

1. People did not get their religion by argument, you are not going to deconvert them by arguing with them either.
2. One of the most powerful words in the English language is the word AND.
3. You listen to what they have to say
4. You agree with them by saying "AND"
5. Then you mess with their mind. (see my other posts for more ideas)

*Also, one critical part to this process is to understand an old saying
"If I say it, it might be true, BUT if they say it, it MUST be true"

Most Christians consider them selves good Christians, godly, pious, and all kinds of religious words that make them feel warm and fuzzy.

You job here is to make them look at themselves and find out they they are those things AND MORE. Did you catch that. I said "AND". We are not going to argue that they are not the things they mentioned. We agree with them. After all that IS how they feel and how they look at themselves.

Remember our goal is deconversion. Not to make them feel bad about themselves, or to show how smart we are, or how bad they are, or anything like that. Our goal here is to simply open their eyes to themselves and to acknowledge some things about themselves they may never have thought of.

We have only one objective today. To open peoples minds and show them where they are closed. No decision is being made, only awareness being raised.


--- we are not trying to trick them or anything
--- it is just nice that you are honestly talking with someone
--- in a caring and friendly way

ready to begin....

* tell me about how you got into your faith?
* what do you like about it?
* what places have you attended services?
* did you have a favorite pastor, priest, celebrant, rabbi...

... now you have begun some friendly conversation
... you have shown genuine interest
... you have shown you are not confrontational

-- result should be that they have their defenses down
and are willing to engage you in honest conversation


- we are not going to try to trick them or build great rational arguments
- this decon routine is probably one of the softest in the most recent posts
- the softer you approach this, the more caring, the more attentive you are
to the other persons mood and defensiveness the better your results should be.
- my routines assume you are working with a christian

FYI-some definitions for you to know(do not need to cite to other person)

heretic - a person who holds unorthodox opinions in any field
heresy, unorthodoxy -a belief that rejects the orthodox tenets of a religion
heterodox - characterized by departure from accepted beliefs or standards
apostate-a person who abandons his religion, party, cause, etc.
heathen: a person who does not acknowledge your god
Infidel (literally "one without faith") is an English word meaning "one who doubts or rejects central tenets of a religion or has no religious ...
Infidel-A person who does not belief in any particular religious system.
Blasphemy is the use of reference to one or more gods in a manner considered objectionable by a religious authority.

List of world religions ( )

Aladura Asatru Bah'ai Faith Bön Buddhism Cao Dai Chinese Religion Chopra Center Christianity Christian Science Confucianism Eckankar Epicureanism Falun Gong Greco-Roman Religion Hare Krishna Hinduism Islam Jainism Jehovah's Witnesses Judaism Kemetic Reconstructionism Mayan Religion Mithraism Mormonism Neopaganism New Thought Rastafari Scientology Shinto Sikhism Stoicism Taoism Unification Church Unitarian Universalism Wicca Zoroastrianism

--the above are not for you to quote, but to help you learn some religion names.

====Continuing the conversation

..let's continue...
* Would you say there are at least 50 different major religions in the world?
* how many would you say there are?

* What is the difference between an atheist and a theist?
* would you say you are a theist or an atheist?
* would you say that being a theist or atheist is black and white, either/or ?
* since you are a theist, that means that you believe in the Mayan gods right? no?
* so your not a theist about the Mayan gods?
* What about the Greek gods? you totally believe in those gods? right?
* So your not a theist about those?
* What about the native Indians, or Chinese Falun Gong? not these either?
* didn't you say you were a theist?
* That must mean you have to accept all these, because your a theist, right?
* So your only a theist for the specific type of god you believe in?
* So if you believe in many gods your a polytheist, if only one a monotheist
* So you don't believe in those others, just the one - a monotheist, right

* All right let's roll back a few minutes
* You previously said that there were over 50 major religions
* and as a mono-theist, you think at least 49 are wrong and don't believe in them
* right 1 out of 50? lets come back to this later?

* alright let's change the subject slightly?
* what do people call some one who says there are zero, absolutely no gods?
* an atheist. right?

* how many Mayan gods do you believe in? zero?
* so you are an atheist with regards to the Mayans?
* so what about all those other religions? zero of those gods too?
* so you are atheist about those too?

* so let me get this straight, you are only a theist about your specific god.
* so the math here is 1 god out of 50 gods, right?
* so that is 1 of 50, or 2 out of 100. That is 2%.
* so as you see it, you are 98 percent atheist, and 2 percent theist?
* is the math right there?

* alright, lets change the subject

---note we don't want to stay on this subject
---we want them to move on quickly and not try to talk themselves into/out of anything.
---We want them to think about this stuff at home, when we are not around

---This routine is a soft pitch
---so far all we wanted was to get them to agree to the math of 1 out of 50
or 98% atheist/2% theist.
---we want to change the subject very quickly after that
---we do not want to start them talking about how they are not an atheist, 2% means this, or that, blah, blah,...
---Get them to say the number AND CHANGE THE SUBJECT, that is all.

lets continue ...

* Look it was just some numbers, I am not saying you are an atheist
* Actually, I wanted to talk about something else.

* I wanted to go back an talk about one religion, the Islamic stuff
* since you said you specifically don't believe in that, do you know that the official term is for someone like you? Infidel.
* Infidel is not a bad thing, it just means you are outside the Islamic faith?
* so you are an infidel right? at least for that religion.
* what about the other 48, infidels there too? right?
* so you are an infidel to 98% of the worlds religions? Thats ok.
* Not very many people can figure out how to be in more than about 2 religions at a time.

* alright, this is getting kind of weird. let's change the subject.
* I want to talk about something you are more comfortable with - christianity.
* according to the web, there are something like 10 major forms of christianity?
does that sound right? stuff like Catholic, Amish, Eastern Orthodox, etc.
* and they say there are some 30,000 or more denominations.
* does that sound high or low to you?

* I am not going to do that percent thing again
(don't have to, they will do it silently in their head to themselves)
* Christianity is really built around an us and them idea.
* Our faith is going to heaven, those other people are going to hell
* we are saved, they are not. we should try to save them - well some folks say that.

* what is the official religious term Christians use for someone not in your specific faith. It's a heretic, right?
* it is important for people in a church to be all in agreement on their faith.
* churches don't like people making up their own stuff or going off in other directions. What do they call that? Blasphemers or blasphemy. Right?
* so the official terms we are working with are heretics are folks outside your faith, and blasphemers/blasphemy is for folks not following your specific faith.
* is that right?
* so how do all the other Christians around the world view you?
* do you all believe exactly the same, killing live chickens and all that?

* so if I am getting this straight, there are over 2 billion Christians, and they are not all agreeing on the same thing, right?

* well this has been an interesting discussion.
* I have to get going in a minute or so.

* let me summarize this before I go.
* you are 98% atheist, billions of your fellow Christians look at you as a heretic, and every time you talk with someone about your faith, you are officially committing blasphemy or are a blasphemer.

--Keep going here... don't pause... they will try to interrupt and defend

* sorry not trying to call you names or anything, just looking at official religious doctrine.
* don't you think religions could try to be nicer to each other?
* it's like we have it right, you have it wrong, you others are going to hell.
* At least that is how it seems to me. Does it seem like that to you too?

---here is a little mind game (tread lightly please)

* I think I would have trouble sleeping at night knowing that billions of people thought of me as a heretic or infidel.
* I mean, I know you think of yourself as a good solid christian, with great morals and a solid belief in god. right?
* to billions of people around the world you are a heathen, not even willing to worship their god as the true god.

-- keep it going don't stop here...
*So really, you are a solid 2% theist, at least as far as Christianity is concerned.
* at least you have the solid foundation that you are a true theist perfectly in sync with 1 out of 30,000 denominations.
* Christianity is not one big faith, it is about believing in the right way.
* I bet lot of Amish or Russian orthodox would not say you are going to heaven.
* so you think of your self as a 2% theist,
the rest of the world sees you as something like .0003 percent theist.
--(it is actually a lot less than that, but this is not a math lesson)
--we are talking to ordinary folk and already way too much math

* You want to hear something funny
* lets get rid of the percentages, way to confusing.
* they say there are over 6.7 billion people in the world
* and considering the numbers we just talked about

* I looked up some odds (
* did you know that if I were to place bets on you being an atheist, heathen, infidel, blasphemer, or committing blasphemy
* you would lose against:
* actually getting killed by lightning(not just getting struck),
* or dying from a part falling from a plane and killing you.

* most people think to themselves "I am a theist. I am not in anyway an atheist."
* but even you, we just went through the math, you are 99.9999% atheist.
* I hope you can hang on to that last little thread
* hold on tight to that last little bit that is not atheist
(man that is a subtle, but powerful statement to the subconscious)
* you will right?
--you just go them to agree
that they are holding on to the last little bit of them that not atheist
--did you get that. they just agreed in their mind they are almost a full atheist.

* well, its been great chatting with you. Hope to chat with you later. see ya.


Just think about where we were when we started
This person probably thought they were a rock solid 100% christian
now they realize the are an outsider to most Christians
they realize they are an outsider to most other religions
they realize that all the terms they use to apply to others now apply to them
they are heathens, infidels, heretics, etc
- they probably had those words saved for the atheists
- uh ...
- wait ... uh ...
they just said those words applied to them. They just said they were infidels.
Heck they just said they were 99.9999% atheist
and were barely hanging by a thread to their own theism.

Nice job - from 100% theist, to 99.999% atheist in under 10 minutes.
Give yourself a hand.

Hope you all enjoyed this ...


How could god prove himself to me

I have heard this question many times on many places podcasts, blogs, forums, and I thought I would put my thoughts into this with a concrete definition.

The answers to me for this were relatively easy to think up. The answer I am going to give here would not all happen at once, but over a period of time and would occur multiple times. Most importantly, it would be noticeable and observable by large groups of people from all sides of the world. Plus, such events need to be observed by a large group of scientists, magicians and skeptics who can agree on the non-naturalness of the result. Most importantly, it would have to be shown that this feat was not possible with any technology, otherwise it is just a trick or a con.

I would like to see a smiley face on the sun and I would like to hear all kinds of cool reports from scientists trying to come up with explanations that don't fit any known science.
I would like to see a pulsar rock out the beats to "We will rock you", in chorus with other pulsars, filling in some riffs along the way.
I would like to see someone hold a pen laser shine it, and float some dust in air, and see the laser light beam move into cursive spelling of a famous line from Shakespeare
I would like to see a series of rocks animate in plain site into live animals with more mass than the rock
I would like to see a person who I know grow 1 foot taller or shorter in a matter of minutes in a healthy and life enforcing way.

It does not have to be those things specifically,
but it would have to be a combination of breaking laws of science

For example:
show me something in chemistry that is impossible
show me something in physics that is impossible
show me something in astronomy, or math that is impossible
show me something where chemistry goes into physics in an impossible way
(show me water (h20) freeze into dry ice (co2)... chem + physics
show me biology going to chemistry
(how about an animal turned into a pillar of salt)

Since I come from evolution being true and not by a god,
I would like to see some cool non-evolution stuff that only a god could do.

I would like to see some animals and plants made with absolutely no DNA, RNA or other earthy biochemistry, but created instantly in front of everyone. Then it stick around so we can work with it, and study it, and enjoy it.

Do this in plain site, testable, repeatable where scientists and magicians are getting a good look.


I will give it some serious consideration.

There is just so much technology out there that we don't yet understand or have experienced. I would want to be sure that this was all non-natural not technological.

at least that is where I personally stand right now...


I would love to hear some other folks ideas.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I have some free tickets

I have 2 free tickets that anyone can have. There are 2 destinations depending on your preference. You have to arrange for your own travel. The tickets have a lifetime satisfaction guarantee with no expiration date.

I don't want to say exactly where they are yet. I want to tempt you with some delicious photos and descriptions. The names of the places are not real interesting, but once you read about it the names won't matter.

Destination #1.
Lets start with some photos.

The location is beautiful. The clouds, the fresh air. Surrounded by beautiful white landscape.

The whole place is just breathtaking. I mean you just get this feeling inside of its immenseness.

As I said before, the location is just awesome. You can tell by the way I am talking there is a "but" coming up here. Yep, you are right. It's not a deal killer, but the neighbors are interesting.

This place has some really talented neighbors. They spend a lot of time singing and really have a strong religious faith. I think if you come from a religious background, this place will really feel welcoming.

I have an idea of why their is some much singing and some much religious gathering.

The sights are beautiful and the singing will bring tears to your eyes. It is some of the most wonderful sights and sounds, even the smells are wonderful.

Sorry, I can't tell you the name of this place, but you might have guessed it.


Obviously, this place is a lot different. If you don't like the cold, but love swimming, sailing, sightseeing this might be a better place for you. You definitely don't have to dress like the first place.

And really I think you will find that variety of colors, smells, sounds are so amazing.

Just think about going out at night for a dip in one of the most beautiful lakes ever written about.

You have so many things to see and do. The daytime, the night life. The places you can go and visit.

The natural beauty with water, fire, earth and air are amazing.

They put on such parties and shows here. Some of the best entertainers in the world come here. But even the locals put on awesome shows.

People here have some great weddings and will spend the rest of their lives together.

There is much more I can say but I bet you have figured this on out too.

Well before I tell you the both locations, let me see if your thoughts are in the right direction.

Destination #1
* White and snow everywhere (no green or other colors hardly noticeable)
* Singing and carols and other songs
* Pine or christmas trees
* freezing cold
* The soldiers were there (also dressed in white)

* you might be thinking north pole
* maybe staying at a military base or barracks
* maybe staying at an ice station

Destination #2
* beautiful day and night time
* awesome displays of nature with water, fire, earth and air
* world famous lake
* fire dancers, singers, celebrity's
* bright colors
* when you go out of the light into night sky some spectacular views

* I bet you are thinking Hawaii aren't you?
* maybe if not there, one of the other islands that has volcano's and stuff

Well let me get the tickets out so I can tell you the exact names of these places.
I told you the names are not what you would expect, but you might be close

I can't really read these names on this tickets. They are kind of smudged.
I can read the book that came with these, it tells how to get there.
I am not really sure, I see several names listed.
Let me look in the book that I got.

Alright folks after all this, I feel embarrassed.
It took me an hour to write this posting and when I went to read the tickets
and write down the names I can't even get that clearly.

Maybe if someone reading this might have the same travel book I do they might be able to write me back and tell me the proper spelling of these places so I can update this post.

The book I have is not a Fodors travel guide.

It is put out by a company in Britain (I think)
called king james

the book that I am using
is called

I just love messing with peoples minds.

Let me restate the concepts of deconversion again for new readers.

1. People did not get their religion by argument, you are not going to deconvert them by arguing with them either.
2. One of the most powerful words in the English language is the word AND.
3. You listen to what they have to say
4. You agree with them by saying "AND"
5. Then you mess with their mind. (see my other posts for more ideas)

Have a great day ...


Decon: Series for ordinary folks

I just wanted to post that my deconversion (decon) series is written for ordinary folks on the street or in the churches. It is not written as material for expert arguments or debates. If a person is a well versed scholar or theologist, they are best directed to debates experts.

Decon series is written as conversational dialog and questions exchanged between some ordinary folks. It is also written as a hit and run type of approach designed to help deconvert as many people as possible in the shortest time possible. For folks looking for deep insight, it would be a good idea to direct them to sites with deeper intellectual and theological content to satisfy their deeper deconversion needs.

The key to decon as I often state is all about getting agreement and messing with their minds. Finding cracks, creating cracks, and making cracks bigger in the belief systems of those we work with. The actual content being used is really not relevant, except I ask folks to approach this with care and respectful.


Make them always use the name of the god they mean.

Never let anyone say "god". Make them always use the name of the god they mean.

They need to differentiate between Yahweh, Elohim and El Shaddai when they speak about the bible.

If them say they are all aspects of the same god. Even if that is their belief, then it is extra important that they specifically tell which aspect they are coming from.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Decon: 6 - Heaven is not what they think

There are a handful of major anchors that establish the TRUTH to a christians faith. In these deconversion routines, we look at many of them. Today, I want to look at a really big one. Heaven.

Before I go into heaven, it is important to understand that heaven is not about what you might think. It is about security. It is about having a safe, secure, comfortable home. Surrounded by people like them, like other people they know and love. It is a place that they can wrap around themselves like a nice warm snuggly blanket with the words LOVE printed all around it. Love, warmth, security, friendship, a secure home after you die, a place to rest.
They really feel the get a lot, but they also realize there is a price for this. The price is believing (faith) or doing some good deeds (acts) or some combination of those. And there is an additional cost after they die, there is one more cost that is to continue to worship and sing praises.
I think if you talk with most christians this should cover a majority of it. Each religion puts its own spin, a little more of this, a little less of that, your forgot to mention this. But this is still the essence.

Let me restate the concepts of deconversion again for new readers.

1. People did not get their religion by argument, you are not going to deconvert them by arguing with them either.
2. One of the most powerful words in the English language is the word AND.
3. You listen to what they have to say
4. You agree with them by saying "AND"
5. Then you mess with their mind. (see my other posts for more ideas)

*Also, one critical part to this process is to understand an old saying
"If I say it, it might be true, BUT if they say it, it MUST be true"

======Let's look at heaven and what it means to a christian
I want to remind readers, this is not supposed to be a scholarly debate. We are not looking to be experts and citing facts, presenting tons of evidence and trying to convince them to see things our way. Show them that we are right and they are wrong.

We have one mission here deconversion. Deconversion is a process that takes a while to achieve. We are planting seeds, or putting cracks in the solid foundations of their minds, which ever metaphor you like.

The key to the heaven deconversion routine is to first understand and build an image in your own mind of what they are likely thinking or feeling heaven is. Many people don't have a clear vision of heaven, just a feeling of what it will be like. Most people have not spent much time on biblical scholarship, or if they did, it was likely tailored, filtered and spun into the local propaganda of their faith.

Let's start with helping you the reader create an image of what the person likely thinks heaven is like. I am going to put a little more into this description, because I have a feeling the folks you talk with will only have a subset of this. And many may only have a feeling, so this image may help you see/feel what they feel.

Physical Description (this is what they may think, not from the bible. Bible later)
* Their is a single heaven
* "heavens" is a location, not a quantity
* it is "up there" somewhere (i.e. not on earth)
* maybe angels on clouds, pearly gates
* Gold, silver, jewels and other fancy decorations
* lots of white
* beautiful music in the air
* beautiful smells, warm air with gentle breezes

Some folks they might meet
* parents, grandparents, cousins, uncles, etc
* friends from school and old neighborhood
* friends from church
* a bunch of other people just like above,
but belonging to other christians.
* St Peter, Jesus, Mary, Joseph, other saints
* Other people they read about in the bible
* great religious and social leaders
* and some others that don't exactly fit those categories

What is their experience going to be like when they get there
* see all above people and the place described above
* they will live in that place
* when they die they get to be with their spouse again
* pets did not come here, but probably went someplace nice like here
* the aches and pains of their bodies will be gone
* They will look and feel young and vibrant
* All the racism, inequality, oppression, classes, segregation will be gone
* everyone will be happy
* everyone will get together and sing and praise
* they might be able to come back to earth as an angel and visit their kids/grandkids
* they will be in a place filled with pure love
* their will be pure, perfect love, forgiveness
* their will be much rejoicing and dancing

Heck, I bet we would all love someplace like that. But, that is not the case at all. That is a fiction by Hollywood, writers, poets, gospel singers and so forth. No we need to get the facts.

These Christians, when they die, they have to realize that they would be going to heaven that is in the bible, not the hollywood version. Hollywood did not exist back then. No the bible is the source of truth, of fact. So let's help them discover the facts (he he he) (man are they in for rude awakening)

Now that you have a picture in your mind, somewhat similar to theirs. We have a place to begin.

Here we go....

I bet you believe in heaven?
Which ones do you believe are real and which ones aren't in the bible?
Do you believe they are all real?

* When god destroys the old heavens and the new heaven is exactly 1500 miles wide and high, where do you want to live?
* When you die and you are no longer allowed to be with your wife or family any more and heaven goes to war, are you going to be in the mounted army or unmounted army?
* Do you think god could have given you armor for you military uniform instead of linen?
* Considering 80% of the criminals in the US prison system are christians and will be joining you in heaven, How do you think they should be treated when one steals from you or kills one of the others in heaven?
* What kind of punishment is given to someone who sins in heaven? They have already been judged, they don't get judged again. No double jeopardy.
* since heaven is so often under violence and for so long, why do you think it was not better fortified?
* do you think singing praise is good way to keep peoples minds off all the violence?
* Since you know it is possible to sin in heaven, documented many times
* Do you think all the christians will find joy in having to move from heaven to heaven to heaven, never being able to settle down
* Why do you think god could not provide his people a safe home to live in a wonderful joyful eternity?
* what kind of joyful songs do you think the people who live in many heavens that been built, destroyed in violence, rebuilt, and destroyed again and again sing?
* Do you thing it is easy to feel loved and connected when the bible says you are like the angels and no longer with your wife and loved ones?
* Do you think your family was taken away from you in heaven so you would not be distracted from your singing praises.
* In Matthew, when Jesus clearly gave his mission statement to not be coming to create peace, but to tear families apart, do you think that was to prepare people for the way heaven would be when they got there?

(alright we have hammered the security/insecurity enough. there is so much more of this in the bible, but we have other parts to bring out)

***Singing Zombies (I love this part)*****
* It is stated over and over and over again in the bible that when the resurrection happens people will be in their physical body.
* since you are not on earth and their is not trees or farm animals what kind of alien food do you think your dead body will eat?
* You dead body has a spirit jammed into it, but it is still dead. A lot of people think, they get an overhaul to get that "new car smell" of when they were younger, but it is still that same old body, just prettier.
* Do you think they take your body away and give you a clone to make it look younger, or do they do actual bodywork and try to roll back the odometer?
* With the younger looking dead body you are wearing around up there, do you think it comes with a warranty? Of course that model comes with out pain installed, but what about if you get hit by a 16 year old skateboarder and he knocks off your arm.
* The bible still gives you a human body, not a cartoon body, or a superman body.
* What do they do with the dead bodies of people in heaven that die in heavenly battles?
* if you are immortal in heaven and can't die, what kind of wars are you having. Are you just messing with each other, breaking each others stuff.

*** something just is not right here

* you get to heaven, and it is not the hollywood image you thought.
* all the singing zombies, constantly having to move, the sinning, the annoying neighbors, the prisoners living next door, your wife making friends and ignoring you.
* It all starts getting to you, who do you complain to?
* If you are not singing and PERFECTLY happy with the status quo, you are an outsider and heretic here.
* and now you want to stir up trouble?
* Your wife and that good looking, fit angel look cute together. I don't think that late dinner they had together means anything. After all, she is not with you, remember.
* I know you talked to some of the saints. Yeah, they have access to one of the gods here.
* Oh yeah, remember, when your here in heaven, if one god is busy, you might be able to book an appointment with one of the other gods here. Christianity has quite a few gods in the bible. That is good to remember for cases like this.
* You might have to bribe some folks to get a meeting with one of the gods.
* It is clearly stated that in heaven you have personal possessions and some folks have a lot and are rich here, and some are poor here.
* If you have some good business skills, you should do ok for yourself
* Now all that singing and praising going on in the background, you are going to have to drown that out so you can have a conversation, how do you think you can drown that out?
* The praising and singing that is going on. Do you think that god is singing along those tunes when he is killing babies, shooting fire, killing all those people every year, inventing new diseases and so on.
* Do you think the gods shush people down and tell them to be quiet when he has to do his daily killing and vengeance and wrath.

I could go on and on here. There is so much in the bible.
Let's come back to the purpose here. We are not trying to run a lecture and teach them stuff. We are not trying to convince them stuff that we know. We are not trying to give them exact quotes and give them accurate scholarship.

We started this for the purpose of helping them with their deconversion. The "heaven" talk is a hugely powerful part of their foundation. Based on what we covered here, I think the topic was hit about 50%. I think they will still be fairly strong on the heaven topic when this is done, but I will hit this again later, to give it the solid strike it needs. This may be solid enough coverage for some, I will leave that for you to decide.

I just want you to remember, our objective here is to get them curious and thinking about topics in the bible. We don't want to give them answers, we want to give them questions. We want to give them doubts.

We also would like for them to want to come back to us and have a further discussion about their beliefs. We on the other hand, want to change the subject when they come back and start on a new topic. They don't and can't get the satisfaction of us helping them with their beliefs. It is important that you give them a homework assignment from the bible that they have to prove something to you. Only one heaven, not many or how many times is heaven destroyed, what is the most violent thing to happen in heaven, whatever.

We want them investigating that heaven is not like their Hollywood fantasy. The more they look up, the more controversies, the more contradictions they will find. They start to trust some stuff but become skeptical of other stuff. That is what deconversion is all about.

Hope everyone has fun with this ....


Monday, October 26, 2009

Decon: 5 - Talk to christians about zombies

This is a fun one. Zombies are a critical part of the christian faith, but something they don't talk about much. I think you should talk with them about it.

This is my fifth article on the fun ways to help Christians deconvert.

I will first restate my basic premises for my deconversion system.
1. People did not get their religion by argument, you are not going to deconvert them by arguing with them either.
2. One of the most powerful words in the English language is the word AND.
3. You listen to what they have to say
4. You agree with them by saying "AND"
5. Then you mess with their mind. (see my other posts for more ideas)

KEY PHRASE (referenced later)
*Also, one critical part to this process is to understand an old saying
"If I say it, it might be true, BUT if they say it, it MUST be true"

De-conversion #5. Talk with Christians about zombies

First, you may be saying what does talking to Christians about zombies have to do with the bible - everything. Ever hear of someone rising from the dead? Thought so.
But that is not it, there is so much more in the bible to have fun with.

Pre-Setup (or a little background before we start)

First, you don't just jump right into conversations about Christians and their personal beliefs. You actually start a little distance away from that topic, getting their agreement along the way. Then once they have agreed with you for the last 5 minutes, you slightly alter the course. Presto - the gears of their minds are so messed up.
Some key points to start out. Once you unleash the finale, you have to walk away or change the subject. They will want to debate with you and challenge you. You might think that they are trying to change your mind. They really are not, they are trying to get their thoughts straight and get their footing replanted.
It is VERY VERY important that you leave them hanging in disagreement with you and not arguing their point out loud with you. You want them to be fuzzy for while, that is going to let the cracks ripple through their brain causing all kinds of trouble. Remember, our objective was not to convince them about zombies, our goal was to get them beginning down the deconversion path. Also, remember this one point is not going to get them completely deconverted.
The objective in deconversion is that it is a process, it takes time. People have a lot of thoughts laced through their heads. It affects, their marriage, their kids, their work, their politics, their friendships, and so much more. Think of each deconversion like a hit on a giant gong. It reverberates loudly for a really long time throughout the entire person.
Some research you need ahead of time. I would really recommend you rent/download/watch the movie "Death becomes her" starring Goldie Hawn and Glenn Close. It is going to be a powerful tool because it is a zombie movie that is not in the typical genre recipe.

Here are some short notes on that movie if you want to get a early start with folks and have not seen the movie. But will not compare to actually seeing the movie and knowing the quotes and quirks. Even if the other person has never seen it.

=====Notes from "Death Becomes Her"
From: from a review
The film centers on the eternal quest for beauty and youth by an aging Hollywood starlet, Madeline Ashton, (played by the brillant Meryl Streep). Her high school rival, Helen, (Goldie Hawn), brings her latest beau to meet Ashton after a campy performance in a musical based on "Sweet Bird of Youth" (get the theme already?).

When Madeline runs off with Helen's fiance (Bruce Willis) Helen falls into a demented state and becomes obese and determined to get even with Madeline. After discovering a secret potion sold by a Hollywood witch (Isabella Rosellini) both Helen, and later Madeline regain their youth, vitality, and beauty. However, all this comes with strings involving immortality.

Some of the key points you might mention from this movie
* Zombie caused by a secret potion
* Immortal
* Helen: hole through her midsection
* Madeline: with a twisted neck
* eternal quest for beauty and youth
* dressing nicely
* no weird diet

The setup
Here we go. The key to this deconversion routine is the mostly in the setup phase.

We start with a normal conversation about movies. Talk about any area you like. Eventually, maybe after a minute or two, you get to the topic about zombie movies. Some of the things you might talk about are:
* whether they like horror movies
* what do they think about zombie movies
* what was their favorite zombie movie (or one they remember most)

Now we want to ask some preliminary questions, but be careful not to tip your hand
Better to play it a little dumb and get them to give you definitions
Especially get them feeling they are talking from the movie perspective.
* what is the difference in zombies vs. vampires?
* Aren't they both dead or undead?
* What would happen to a zombie once it was created, would it die, it is undead
* Is it written anywhere what zombies eat, although movies like chasing people does that have to be always true.
* what if an undead Climbed out of the grave because the "earth rumbled"
-don't say "rose from the grave", Rumble is keyword we use later
* What if they were undead by a potion like in the above movie
* would it matter how they became undead- virus, bacteria, potion, magic
* would they still be a zombie if was a curse or spell
* who makes zombies. Are they supposed to be evil or neutral
* A zombie is not good, right? (notice how this sentence is built slightly different)

Now we have one more set of questions we are going to use for the finale -
To really get their brains cooked and smoke coming out their ears.
You don't want to be perfectly right here, a little sloppy goes a long way.

* What do they think about voodoo. It's just a bunch of junk, isn't it.
* is it a real religion?
* Do you think the voodoo priests and priestesses are real
* Voodoo says they can make zombies for real.
* Voodoo tries to even get ANY god to make zombies, even the christian god?
* Do you think the christian god or Jesus made zombies, like in the movies?
(there is a subtle part added to the above sentence. We added "like in the movies."
some Christians are well trained apologists, we are staying prepared, just in case.
we don't want them jumping ahead, before we finished our setup.
* do you think that zombies are real?
* Say something like zombies are pretty spooky to you
* So you think there is absolutely no REAL way a zombie would exist?

Now the last step is that we want to nail down historical data
* if a zombie was ever created in the past they would still be walking around, right?
* I have never seen a zombie, have you?
* If there were a bunch of zombies walking around in history, do you think that would go unnoticed.
* I have been looking for historical stories of real zombies walking around and have not found any, have you?

Here is what we are after
1. They define what a zombie is
2. They define that a zombie can come from multiple sources including curses or magic
3. they don't believe curses and magic make zombies
4. zombies would still be walking around
5. christian god does not make zombies

The Finale
So far we have been playing it kind of neutral. We have been talking about movies, talking about "OTHER" religions. This time we are going to Christianity. It is important to note: WE ARE NOT ATTACKING. WE ARE NOT GOING AFTER THE PERSON.

We are going to use the ideas in the bible. Those ideas are our partner. Remember, we are working on deconversion. That is about using the bible, not science to be our friend. AND remember, we want the ideas in the bible to be RIGHT not wrong. Deconversion happens when they think that "if the bible is right, I am wrong". yeah bible.

So here is how we begin the finale.
I really think is great how SOME Christian's believe in zombies.
I mean it is saw awesome that they think zombies are real.
I am not sure where they get that idea from.
Do you think Christians who are big believers in the zombies
are part of the main core of Christianity,
or are the likely the weird ones on the extreme? (he he he, we are sneaky...)
I have even heard that it was in the bible. That is not right, is it?
(a sneaky loaded question, because we know the answer)

*** we let them ramble some, and get ready to set the hook to reel them in.
blah, blah, blah

Now we interrupt them .. and continue

Well you know there are zombies all over the bible in the new testament.

******** THE REVEAL********

Before you get into the biblical reveal I need to make a couple points here.
* The reason you started this dialog with this person was deconversion
* You are not trying to be an expert on the bible
* In fact, you want to be a combination of strong and sloppy
* The sloppy is more important than the strong and accurate
* Many people think that by providing accurate quotes and facts will win the case
But remember my KEY PHRASE
"If I say it, it might be true, BUT if they say it, it MUST be true"
* You want to give partial and incomplete information
* You want them to leave you without the answers
* You want them to leave you with questions and doubts
* You want them to have to look up details in the bible
* most people have busy lives and many won't even bother to look it up
* Those who do bother too look this stuff up are in for a shock
* Those who wait to look this up, get this stuff EATING THEIR BRAINS - like a zombie.
* it is a no win for them
* The look it up, they lose
* they don't look it up, they lose
* They look it up quickly, they lose quickly
* that wait to look it up, the lose slowly.

This stuff is so much fun ...
Here we go...

There are a lot of places zombies are mentioned in the bible.
As a matter of fact the bible mentions zombies directly or details of zombies in over 70 places in the new testament and just about as many in the Old testament.

In the new testament at least 6 zombies are created by name, some by Jesus and some by his crew. Most people know about all the zombies rolling around Jerusalem created when Jesus died. The bible talks about entire crowds who witnessed these zombies and written accounts of this being witnessed in the bible. The bible even mentions specifically dead people climbing out of their graves and walking around Jerusalem.

Just some fun facts to remind them. Counts about zombies or zombie related stuff.
Matthew: 8 entries
Mark: 2 entries
Luke: 6 entries
John: 8 entries
Acts: 16 entries
Cor(both): 16 entries
Rev: 6
Romans: 16 entries

And there are tons more. I kind of picked some low end numbers from these books, probably could add another 4 to 6 more to each, but not trying for overkill here.

Many people who read this kind of material will next be looking for those one or two good stories that knock it out of the park to prove your point.

PLEASE - Do not look for those one or two BEST cases. As a matter of fact if you do that you will shoot yourself in the foot and have wasted this whole exercise. I am not kidding.

Let me explain. As it stands right now, they have just been hit with 78 examples. 8+2+6+8+16+16+6+16 = 78 examples from the bible at least. That is an overwhelming number.

The next thing they are going to do is deny this. That is OK. Because the next thing following that is for them to ask you to give them some examples. YES. That is what we want - BUT - we want to give them mediocre to poor examples.

You might ask why would we want to do that. Lets give them the best examples, much more powerful. Remember, we are not in this to win the argument, we are in this for the deconversion. THEY HAVE TO DISCOVER THE BETTER CASES FOR THEMSELVES. We want to give them weaker cases also because if we give them the 2 best cases and they can rationalize their way through those on their drive home, then they can outright dismiss everything else without having to do any research, because you told them that your examples were the best. Therefore, since they could rationalize the best ones away, the others really did not matter.

By giving them mediocre ones, they have to go back and investigate for themselves, and do all kinds of research on their own. AND THEY HAVE TO PREPARE A LIST and SORT THAT LIST for us to show how their list of zombie stories can be overcome by THEIR logic.

*** They just made a list of ZOMBIE Stories.
*** They researched zombie stories in the bible and else where
*** They sorted those stories into best to least

I am not kidding they are going to want to come back to you with a list to prove to you that they are not crazy, wacko, on the fringe, and here is their logic why.

You say, sure I would love to talk with you later about this (he he he he...)
Now you need to remind them that they have to sort out the zombie stuff and the resurrection stuff out differently. And they can explain to you how they decided to sort it out (don't tell them how, you will understand later).

You say, now I am going to give you an easy one that EVERYONE KNOWS, but I am going to ask you a question after wards. I will bet I can tell you in one word and you can even tell me the story. What is that one word - "Lazarus". Yep. Told you you would know that one. This is not the best case, just a real simple one everyone knows that I don't have to convince you anything about.

Lets run though the story really simple. A ordinary guy named Lazarus dies, blah blah blah, Jesus, blah blah blah, he is alive. First this is not a resurrection story, remember, resurrection is Jesus' thing. This guy was dead, now he is undead. He has not floated up to heaven, he is just undead and will go about his daily life with his family. So this is a simple case of a zombie.

Now you might want to argue with me about the science that maybe this guy was not really dead, maybe he was just sick or something. That is not what the bible said. We are looking to the bible for our facts, we can't just make stuff up. The bible is the reference. If you want to say their are weaknesses in the Lazarus account you are opening up a whole bunch of problems with all the better stories. So you better consider Lazarus a great zombie example, even though it is not one of the better zombie facts in the bible.

If you died and a GOD makes you undead. remember, he had been dead for a while so rigormortis had already passed. Flies and maggots had eggs laid and were starting to grow, his guts and skin and eyes were beginning to rot.

The bible did not say he was restored to perfect health. No, his rotting, undead body came out of the tomb and unwrapped the strips of linen and he took off the cloth from his face. So here is the rotting undead man named Lazarus who will roam the earth for all eternity. Remember the last sentence in John 11 - "the DEAD MAN CAME OUT". the bible did not say he was given back his life, it said the dead man was now walking out.

Here is my question I told you I would ask - do you think Lazarus is still walking around undead, do you think somebody like killed and dismembered him like in the zombie movies, or do you think he just got tired and found a grave to live out the rest of his undead days.


Here is the wrap up of this routine.
Tell them you would be glad to talk with them about their thoughts on this
Ask them if they would like to talk with you later (most likely will want to)

Remember, do not go into this now, you want them to leave and think on this.
Tell them that you can't see them for at least 3 - 4 weeks.
The longer you leave them stewing on this, the better the deconversion works.

Remember all those questions we were asking in the beginning. All that movie stuff. All that vampire, voodoo stuff. We are now going to get the payoff from those questions

... So you continue with them ...
So when we get back together, I will remember how you said zombies don't exist, potions and magic, blah blah blah. Just give them back all the ideas they confirmed to you about how they don't believe in zombies
tell them that you would like to hear about how they decided which zombie stories were real in the bible and which ones were not. And which specific fact they used to tell if a person was a zombie or a resurrection because you want to be able to explain to others as well.

Well thanks for chatting with me. Look forward to talking with you next month. and send them on their way.

Remember, our objective here is deconversion. This one routine is not going to totally deconvert someone, but it will do some serious messing with their minds.
Their head is going to be ringing for days with this. They will probably have trouble sleeping until they can spend some serious time in the bible.

So I bet you are wondering what you talk about when you get together in a month. We are looking for deconversion, so guess what we are NOT going to be talking about. That's right. We are not going to be talking about zombies. Nope. no way, no how. If they get a chance to talk with you again, that is practice time for them to sharpen their belief system - we don't want that. We want their belief system shaken and weakened. They think they are going to try to convince you about differences in zombies and resurrection and whatever.
We don't care about that stuff, that is their belief system. It has to make sense to them, not us. Just tell them, that you already know what's in the bible and we already discussed your beliefs so the matter was actually closed a while ago.

Instead when you get together again, you pick one of the other deconversion topics and work on that. Remember, you have a limited amount of your own personal time. Don't waste it on arguing or having them explain stuff to you. It is their belief, keep it to themselves. When you get together with them, you want to be constantly crashing and smashing and trashing those belief systems of their with the facts of the bible, giving them tidbits of information, and making them have big homework assignments.

Think of it like a guy with a chisel and hammer on top of a giant rock. You position the chisel, swing and BING, nothing happens (visibly that is). You re-adjust, get together again, and swing, hit the chisel and BING again. (still nothing visible). All the while, tiny little cracks are ripping through the rock. Finally, one little swing, maybe even not very hard and bing, CRASH!! the entire rock cracks and crumbles and falls to pieces. So was it that first swing, the second one, or that last one. It was all of them together, that is the way deconversion happens.

this was a very long post, and if you can remember it, I think you will find it to be one of the most devastating blows in your bag. The key to most christian faith is resurrection and this is a massive blow to that part of the belief system. They still have other parts holding their beliefs together, but this is a big one.

I hope you have a lot of fun with this...