Something Different Saturdays

Something Different Saturday #5: Theist Mindset

For last weeks Something Different Saturday, click here.

For nearly 30 years I was a theist. If you have followed this blog you will know that I was a Pentecostal pastor, raised to believe that I was an end times prophet. With that in mind I should be fairly well able to describe the theist mindset. Some will of course state that I was never actually a believer, they will assert that only a non-believer could ever really leave the faith and if god had actually touched my heart I would still be a believer. These arguments are used by those in the faith community to immunize their own beliefs from true scrutiny. Others will say that this is only my experience, which is true, but I think you will find that my experience is shared by many who have left the faith and so I feel it is good to share.

dinosaursGrowing up I always loved learning, that might seem strange to hear from someone who was a fundamentalist but it is true. Having Autism means that I have very focused interests with History, Archaeology, and Paleontology being a few of those interests. From as early as I can remember, dinosaurs were a huge part of my life. I still read any new article that I come across involving the subject.

So it might also come as a shock that I both believed in a young earth as well as admitting that dinosaurs made this fact an impossibility. How could this be true? How can someone hold two separate contradictory thoughts and believe them both just as firmly?

If you have ever partitioned a hard-drive than maybe you will realize just how this was possible.  A partitioned hard-drive can act as two completely separate hard-drives, each with their own programs, operating systems, and faults. The same was true for my mind as a theist.

evan.jpgMy brain was partitioned. The vast majority of my thoughts were logical and reasonable.  There was however a portion of my brain where logic and reason were not built into the operating system, this was my faith center. In that portion of my brain all of the things from the bible were completely reasonable; the 6 day creation, Noah’s ark, the tower of babble, angels, the devil, demons, etc…

It is my opinion that the majority of theists are of the exact same mindset. Part of their brain is closed off to reason the other is completely open. This is why when something forces both parts together, the believer can become the non-believer in a short period of time. The same can also be true in the reverse, some non-believers can become believers in a short period of time.

UnicornWhat proof do I have of this phenomena outside of my own experiences? Ask a theist if they believe in leprechaun’s, fairies, unicorns, or big foot? Some might, but the vast majority will state that these things can’t exist because they are completely illogical. Then ask if god fits into this same scenario and their mindset will switch. They will state that god is completely logical and apparent to anyone who actually looks…

Go one step further and ask about Zeus, Dionysus, Hercules, or any other god outside of the one they believe in. They will more than likely go back to the logic and reason center stating that these God’s cannot exist because they are illogical and make no sense.

How else can this be explained outside of the closed off portion of the mind?

So what can you do with this information? Sadly the answer is, not much. If religion was a matter that could be reasoned away from then I have a hard time believing that it would have existed to this point in history.  Like myself, I believe that the easiest way to break the barrier between these two portions of the brain is through life experience. Most often this comes in the form of a traumatic event.

Traumatic events have a way of refocusing the mind in ways that were impossible prior to them. This is especially true in the areas of faith. Think of it like this, what is “Free-will?” Free will was in essence an idea created to explain and answer the reason for suffering in the world. From ancient Greece, the philosopher Epicurus, came up with the following problem.

Epicurus_bust21.) If an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent god exists, then evil does not.
2.) There is evil in the world.
3.) Therefore, an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent god does not exist.

This problem has been the bane of believers and theologians for centuries. So the theologian introduced the idea of free-will, or that man shapes this world outside the ability of god, god cannot mess with free-will or else humans have no real choice in whether to serve him or not. So the equation becomes…

1.) If an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent god exists, then evil does not.
2.) There is evil in the world.
3.) Free-Will Exists which allows evil to exist.
3.) Therefore, an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent god does exist.

The entire idea of free-will is centered around the need for an out for god. If free-will does not exist and we are much more like the animals that we believe ourselves superior to, then god is the reason for suffering and he cannot be a good and loving god. In many cases a believer can be perfectly happy with the free-will equation until a traumatic event occurs that appears to be no fault of their own.

For me this came in the form of my cousin’s suicide and the idea that a good and loving god sent him to hell. I was no longer capable of accepting a good and loving god in the equation. God became dark, distant and evil. My mind began to open where it had once been closed and I was finally able to use logic and reason on the subject of faith. Once this became possible, faith fell apart and what remained was one departitioned mind.

I try to remember this in the conversations that I have with theists. Many are quite intelligent, logical and reasonable, in all areas outside of their faith. They are who I once was for a long period of my life. With this in mind my discussions and debates with theists became much more civil and caring. I no longer resort to anger when someone challenges me on the facts of my former belief. They have to claim that I was never a believer in order to still keep the disconnect within their own minds in place. One day they might be in the same shoes as I once was and I would like to be there for them if that becomes the case.

 

Strange Questions

Strange Questions #2: Isn’t Atheism Just Another Religion?

For the last strange question article, click here.

This is a question that you can either hear this as a question or as if it is a definitive fact.  One of the means that apologists use to try to win people over to their side of the argument is to claim that Atheism is just as dogmatic and creed driven as any religious faith. This is on one hand a very sad argument and on the other hand incredibly annoying.

As stated before, you almost only hear this question posed by trolls and apologists, which in reality are pretty much one and the same in my book. Apologists are incapable of stating that there are any issues with the faith and have no real argument for why that is the case, so instead they try to create controversy within the atheist ranks where there really is none.

Atheism = A lack of belief in a god or gods.

That’s it, nothing more, nothing less.

Now let me first state that there are organizations within the atheist community that do act in some ways like a religion. Secular Humanism and Satanists both have creeds and to a certain extent dogma, Satanists even have their own rituals. However anything that these groups teach are actually an addition to atheism and mean nothing towards the simple definition that I have laid out.

I am an atheist, I am also a secular humanist.  However, I’m a secular humanist because I care about my fellow human beings and like the ideals of the secular humanism. I could easily be an atheist and not follow any of the ideals of secular humanism or Satanism for that matter.

Do you have faith that there is no Santa Clause? If the answer is yes, and you actually have to actively believe in the non-existence of something, then you are more than likely mentally ill. Not believing in something does not create a need to believe in the lack of something. If that were the case then my next scenario would require belief…

The_Great_Gazoo

Say I told you that sleep is a blessing granted to us by little green men who live under our beds. These little green men are invisible, though they did reveal their green skin to me once, so I know it’s green. They are also 5th dimensional beings and so even if you don’t have space under your bed, they can exist within the confines of your bed.  Each night when you close your eyes, they wave their green penises, large for their small stature I might add, over your eyes and you drift to sleep. I know this is true because each night when I close my eyes, I eventually drift off to sleep.

Does it require any faith on your part to say….I don’t believe there are little green penis waving men living under my bed? If you say it does, then I question your sanity. If you say it doesn’t then the same can be said for anything else that you lack belief in.

Now some will try to reverse the argument and say, well you can’t prove that anything exists. This is where evidence comes into play. If I were to say the little green men, leave green semen trails on our noses each night, and you woke up with green splotches on your nose every morning…you might have some work on your hands to disprove my theory. However, god shows none of these signs.

People will say that nature proves god’s existence and yet we have scientific explanations for just about everything in nature, which are much better explanations than “God dun it…” People will say that god is an ever-present force throughout the universe that is undetectable but obviously there. If it’s undetectable, then we might as well say it doesn’t exist, as in order to have an effect on us, it would have to be detectable in some way.

Some will go so far as to say that god is the universe, yet if that’s the case, why not just call it the word we already have for it….the universe.

If you are new to atheism having just come out of faith, you will find that theist love to move the goalposts on their argument. They will try to do anything they can to prove that atheism is a religious faith in some fashion or form. Yet the following list should clear this up.

What Atheism requires…

1.) A Lack of belief in a god or gods.

What Atheism doesn’t require…

1.) Faith
2.) Belief in the supernatural
3.) Belief in Science
4.) Rituals
5.) Sacrements
6.) Meditation
7.) Works
8.) Prayer
9.) Creeds
10.) Anything outside of a lack of belief in a god or gods…

Are we clear?

If the answer is no…just realize…that green semen is actually invisible too but I was allowed to see it once and that is why I know it’s green.

Thank you for reading.

My Journey

My Journey Away From Faith: The Epilogue: Part 5

For part 4 of the epilogue, click here.
To start at the beginning of my journey, click here.

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
-Oscar Wilde

The day of my second appointment I was far less worried. The drive there still bothered me greatly as I hate long drives. We reached the office about a half an hour early and I sat down in the waiting room. Thoughts of my life passed through my mind.

99_freaks_geeks_cast

I remembered how hard childhood had been, never knowing what to say or how to take the things that others said to me. Making friends is difficult when you don’t recognize the difference between sarcasm and actual anger, or realize that you should offer comfort to someone who is sad. I remembered my teenage years, spent in part trying to do everything I could in order to be seen as “normal” and then spending the second part of those years doing everything I could to not be seen as anything close to normal.

AnarchyI remembered the first time Jennifer and I had been together, how much love I had felt for her in those early moments and how much deeper my love for her is now that weTexas have reconnected. I felt the pain of losing her go through my mind and the struggles I faced trying to put my life back together. All the times that I wanted to give up and yet still pushed forward regardless of the circumstances.

FightingI thought about my second marriage, how I had tried finding someone who was the exact opposite of Jennifer, somehow thinking that this would lead to happiness. Remembered all the pain I went through but all of the joy as well spending time with my two-step children from that marriage. Watching them grow has been one of the favorite parts of my life and it still is.

Storm cloudsI thought of my cousin, who had lived a parallel life as me. Had he been autistic? Were the struggles that he faced caused by the same source as my own battles in life? He had always seemed to be more outgoing but hearing stories from others around him, he was always distant, cold, and preferred to be alone. Would he still be here today if he had sought out the help of a psychologist instead of the dogmatic dog whistles of his cousins ministry?

autismI thought about my nephew, that small bundle of joy that had cleared the path to my own mental health and stability.  If he hadn’t existed would I ever have known the name to my own struggled? I know he has many struggles to face in life and it won’t be easy, but he is smart and loving, an absolute joy to be around, especially for the uncle who understands him so well. He is and always will be my hero.

Finally, after what seemed like forever, the psychologist came and took me to a small room beside the reception area. I sat down behind a laptop computer and was explained the testing that I would be taking, a simple quiz of around 500 true/false questions. He told me that through the take home quiz and this one, he would be able to gauge exactly where on the spectrum I was.

I started taking the quiz and after about 100 questions the program crashed.  He restarted it and I had to restart from the beginning, about 100 questions in the program crashed once more. He started it up again and the same thing happened. Contacting the IT department, he found out that the virus scan software was what was crashing the program. He disabled that and asked me if I was willing to try it once more, if not I could return in two weeks and try it again.

Thinking about the trip it takes to get there, I decided to give it another shot. After about 120 questions it acted as if it was going to crash, an icon appeared on the screen and simply spun for a few seconds. I yelled at the top of my lungs, “GOD DAMN IT!” The program then went on to the next question and I realized the ass that I had just made of myself. No one came in but I’m sure the receptionist got a bit of a scare from my loud outburst.

I finished the quiz, which continued to act as if it was going to crash every 20 questions or so, and went back to the waiting room. A few minutes later the psychologist asked me to come into his office to talk just a bit more. I sat on his couch and he asked me about a couple of the answers on the quiz. I explained the answers and he then said that he thought he had enough to come up with a complete diagnosis. He told me that since I had brought him all the information about the struggles throughout my life, it had been easy to see that I had been correct. He said he was impressed by all the research that I had done before even approaching a psychiatrist and that i had made his job very easy. It would be a couple of weeks before I got my copy of his report but there would be no surprises in there for me to worry about.

I drove home happy to be done with the long trips to the psychologists office. I had been right. I have ASD, Autism Spectrum Disorder. All the times that I had felt different from the outside world made sense to me now. All that I had been through in childhood and life in general were now clear. I wasn’t a failed human being, I was a whole human being, just one that happens to have ASD. My brain works in a wild and wonderful way that could never truly be understood by someone who does not also have autism.  I am perfect, just the way I am.


 

new-day.jpg

If you’ve followed me throughout my entire journey and the epilogue, thank you. It might come as a shock to know this but outside of a few people close to me, you, the readers, are some of the first people to know about my journey towards a diagnosis with autism. Thank you so much for the kindness you have shown me.

My journey away from faith is fairly well-known in my community. I still live in the same area as I did when I was a minister. Initially, I had considered moving to a more suitable area for someone who lacks a faith. In the town where I live sits a gigantic mormon church, just on the outskirts of town there is a Jehovah’s Witness Temple, as well as several other churches. My own former church is just over 5 miles away from where i currently live. Moving away might have been an easy solution for me.

However, I want people to have that uncomfortable feeling they get when they avoid me in public. I want the former members of my church to see me, happy and healthy, while a growing sickness builds within their gut. I want their cognitive dissonance to be hit as hard as possible, they need to see that I am still the same person I was, just happier, not filled with hate, living a good life in their midst. It isn’t that these things bring me joy, in fact a lot of times they hurt, but I do think they serve a purpose.

Life experience led me away from faith, finding that faith lacked everything which I had believed it to hold. No comfort was found within the pages of the bible once my eyes had been opened. No strength was found in my faith to get me through the hardships I had to face. Religion is nothing more than a vast build-up of lies. We lie to ourselves enough that one day we find we believe those lies to be true, however, in many cases it doesn’t take much to tear that wall of lies down.

I love my life now. So much wonder and joy is found in the natural world that I question why I ever sought out a supernatural one to begin with. My indoctrination though had started long before I had actually reached an age to make my own decisions for me. I was taught that the world was a deeply sinful, scary and cold place; filled with evil does waiting to bring me down to their abyss. What I have found since leaving is that life is a wonderful thing, something that we only get to experience once. Religion had mad me hate this world and wish for the next…

As Christopher Hitchens is so famous for saying, “Religion poisons everything.”

 

Freethought Friday

Free-Thought Friday #3: Guest Bloggers Needed

For last weeks Free-Thought Friday, click here.

Free-Thought Friday is your chance to have your voices heard. I am looking for guest bloggers who something to say but maybe don’t believe they have a platform from which to say it. This article is all about you. Have something that you think fits any of the themes of this blog, let me know and submit an article. You can do that through the contact page on this blog or by contacting me either on Facebook or Twitter.

So what are some of the things that I am interested in? I would love to read about your journey away from faith or your life in general. Have something you want to rant about, this is the article to let you do it. Interested in sharing a story about your life, including maybe stories about your autism and how it has shaped your life? I’m interested in those stories as well.

Basically, if you have something that you think is important and needs to be said. Let me know and say it. I look forward to anything that you have and are willing to submit. Every time I read one of your stories I enjoy it and look forward to reading many more.

A few topics of interest:

Atheism
Agnosticism
Doubts
Former Faith
Autism
Asperger’s
Stemming
Sensory Overload
General Science
Physics
Evolution
Biology
Paleontology
Archeology
etc…

These articles are about you getting to have your say in the way you want to say it. I look forward to hearing back from you.

Thank you!

My Journey

My Journey Away From Faith: The Epilogue: Part 4

To read part 3 of the epilogue, click here.
To start at the beginning of my journey, click here.

“What would happen if the autism gene was eliminated from the gene pool? You would have a bunch of people standing around in a cave, chatting and socializing and not getting anything done,” – Dr. Temple Grandin

As my appointment grew closer I became more and more stressed. Once again those same fears entered my mind. This is a specialist, what if I’m crazy. What if they lock me away or believe I am completely faking everything. What if they tell me I’m not autistic and that I’m just nuts. These worries filled my thoughts over the few days prior to the appointment.

What if they tell me I’m not autistic and that I’m just nuts.

One of the worst parts of this appointment was that it was over an hour away in a town that I am not familiar with. This fact alone caused my stress to fly through the roof. What if I am late? What happens if I can’t find the doctor’s office? The worst fear was, What if my car breaks down? Regardless of the trip I am always in constant fear that my car will break down. I’m not a handy person and know absolutely nothing about cars, a hilarious fact when you consider I work in the auto industry.

These fears stem from when I was a small child and my family went on vacation to my aunt’s house in Oklahoma. We got halfway there and the family car broke down. It was a horribly hot summer and I remember sitting on the side of the road, waiting for the tow truck to arrive and pull us the rest of the way to my aunts home. I thought they would never show up, my anxiety went to the worst of the worst scenarios. We were all going to die of exposure to the heat, we’d slowly die of dehydration or worse, murderers might show up and kill us all. That situation left me with so much fear that now I absolutely hate driving any more than within a 30 mile radius of my home.

We were all going to die of exposure to the heat, we’d slowly die of dehydration or worse, murderers might show up and kill us all.

The drive to the appointment was made worse by the fact that the road was horribly bumpy. Bumpy enough that it caused a horrible vibration to be felt throughout the entire car and at times made me believe we had blown a tire. This bumped the stress level up another few notches. I sat in my car, driving, with my wife sitting beside me, gripping the steering wheel and gritting my teeth. Every bump took my anxiety up another slight notch. When we finally made it to the appointment, I was a complete wreck. I sat in the waiting room trying to catch my breath and pull myself together.

The psychologist came out shortly after and introduced himself. He told me it would be a few more minutes and then he would call me into his office. The seconds ticked away like hours on the clock. Finally he called us back and once again I nearly fell apart.

He told me that he had read through all the notes from the psychiatrist and that he believed I was a fairly obvious example of someone who has grown up autistic without actually knowing it. We discussed all the same things that I had with the psychiatrist and a lot more. He asked if small things had a tendency to bug me and I pointed out a small spot on his baseboard that was a different color from the rest of his office. He laughed and said that he had never even noticed that.

At the end of the appointment he said the same thing as the psychiatrist, only this time with the backing of his specialization. “My preliminary diagnosis is high-functioning autism or what used to be known as Aspergers syndrome. I need you to come back in a couple of weeks to take some tests and find out exactly where on the spectrum you are but it shouldn’t take too long. Normally, I would want to set you up for a series of appointments but you’ve laid everything out so well and everything is so detailed that I think once more appointment should be enough.”

He gave my wife and I a quiz that each of us were to take before my next appointment. My wife took hers while I was at work and I took mine the following weekend. It was similar to many of the tests you find on-line but had some more confusing questions that really bothered me. One such question asked, “I have a good sense of humor and can understand jokes.” This question annoyed me greatly as I laugh all the time at what I find funny, people tell me I’m funny as well, however, someone has to actually tell me that they are saying a joke for me to be able to understand it as one. If I’m not told that what you are saying is a joke it will take me a huge amount of time to recognize it as one. Anyway, I just wanted to get that off my chest, that question still bugs me.

So we finished out exams and went back to waiting for the next appointment date to arrive. I hate waiting for anything and so that time passed by so damn slowly. What’s worse is that during this whole time I had also had a family issue weighing on me. My mother had cancer and had surgery to remove the cancer. She then found out that she still needed chemotherapy and on the same day that my next appointment was, she would be getting genetic testing done as well as starting her chemo. The genetic testing was to find out if our family carries certain genes that make us susceptible to cancer. Cancer has always been something that I greatly fear and so awaiting those results were just as stressful as awaiting my next appointment.

The day would finally arrive and we would once again make the trip to that office. The story of my second appointment however, will have to wait until tomorrow as I must head to work in just a few minutes. Thank you so much for reading my blog so far, I really appreciate it.

To continue on to part 5, click here.

My Journey

My Journey Away From Faith: The Epilogue: Part 3

For part 2 of the epilogue, click here.
To start at the beginning of my journey, click here.

The idea of seeking a diagnosis scared me to death. My family had been anti-psychiatry both for religious as well as personal reasons. The featured image today is the mental asylum in Missouri where my great-great uncle spent the vast majority of his life. My great-great uncle was said to be a loner, he despised other people, was prone to emotional outbursts, suffered from learning disabilities and had a strange gait to his walk; all of these point to him also being autistic but at the time he was simply labeled as insane and locked away remainder of his years. My grandfather loved his uncle and so any talk of mental health was shunned in my family for many years. Psychiatrists were evil men who were bent on sending good people to horrific asylums, where who knows what might take place.

So with all of that in mind, I was perfectly happy being self-diagnosed. My wife however continued to encourage me to seek a diagnosis, she didn’t try to force me into it, but attempted to show me how a diagnosis might help me and in helping me I might be able to help others like myself and my nephew. My nephew had no idea that I self-diagnosed, to him I was his cool uncle but also in his mind I was another neurotypical person who had no idea what his struggles were like. I thought to myself that by seeking a diagnosis I could be a better role model to my nephew, showing him that autism doesn’t have to be the limiting force that many people try to portray it as.

Throughout life I had always considered myself a failure.

Throughout life I had always considered myself a failure. I failed to make friends in school, failed to understand subjects that I had no interest in, failed to hold down a job for many years, failed to sustain a healthy marriage, failed as a minister; my whole life had seemed to be paved with one failure after another. For many years I felt as if I was born on the wrong planet, or that maybe I was mentally handicapped and everyone else could see it but me. Once I began researching autism, all of that went out the window.

I wasn’t a failure, I simply hadn’t recognized my shortcomings and my capabilities. I realized that I wasn’t actually a failed human being but was actually a fairly successful one, who happened to be an Aspie, that just hadn’t found my way in life yet. I graduated from college and found a great job as an accountant. I also believe that my autism is what makes me so well suited for that role. I can spot issues in patterns of numbers that others might not see right away. If something seems off, I will be the first to question it, while other people might stay quiet. I found my way and through finding my way I thought I might make a good example for my nephew of what someone with autism can achieve.

I found my way and through finding my way I thought I might make a good example for my nephew of what someone with autism can achieve.

So after several months of gentle prodding, I agreed to see a local psychiatrist. While my wife was happy that I was taking this step, I however was horrified.  I thought of my great-great uncle, I worried that something like that might happen to me. I worried that maybe I was wrong and that all of my research had simply been a form of confirmation bias, or looking for the facts that fit your opinion. In my mind I knew that this wasn’t the case but the worries were still there.

The night before my appointment, my wife and I decided to list everything that I could think of about the struggles that I had faced in life. My handwriting is horrible so I dictated everything to my wife as she wrote it all down in a notebook. In the end we had come up with nearly 4 paged worth of information, starting from early childhood, through adolescence, the teenage years, early adult life and my current mindset and issues. I went to bed confident that I was prepared and ready to face this fear.

The next morning I awoke and spent the morning having a horrible anxiety attack.  I felt like I couldn’t breathe, my stomach cramped in pain, my head ached and the world spun. I told my wife that I no longer wanted to go to the appointment. She assured me that everything would be fine and explained what was going to happen that day. She said I would just be meeting the psychiatrist and talking for a bit. I began to calm down after I got to work, the appointment was during my lunch break and I had plenty to keep me busy that morning. Lunch arrived and I drove home to pick up my wife, we then drove to the local clinic and I had my wife check me in because my anxiety was beginning to build again.

psychiatrist couchA few moments later, the psychiatrist came out and called us into her office. I sat down on her couch and she sat in a chair a few feet away. She asked, “So what brings you to my office today?” I immediately began to cry…

Pulling myself together I described my nephew and how I saw many things similar between him and I. After that I went into detail about all of the things that I had written down in my notebook. Told her how hard I struggle with social situations and how eye contact is nearly impossible. I described my childhood, schooling, adult life and all things in between.

She paused for a moment…

“If I were to give my professional opinion, I would say you show all the signs of Asperger’s, or what’s known as high-functioning autism today.” She then went on to say that autism was not her specialty and adult autism was even harder to diagnose. She said that she only knew of one psychologist in the area who was trained and specializes in adult autism and diagnosis. He had a very long waiting list, but if I wanted she would refer me and see about getting me an appointment with his office. I agreed that it was something I desperately wanted to do, so she gave me a referral and told me that his office would contact me.

That was the last thing I heard for nearly two months. I am not a patient man and constantly I would ask my wife, “Why is this taking so long?” Eventually I had annoyed her long enough that she called and asked what the wait was about, turns out I needed to sign some paperwork in order for the referral to go through. I signed the paperwork, left the office and a few days later was contacted by his office. The e-mailed me even more paperwork to fill out which I did as quickly as possible. After e-mailing back that paperwork I went back to waiting. Nearly two weeks later, the office called me to schedule an appointment. Finally the date was set and my anxiety once again hit in full force.

To continue on to part 4, click here.

Wednesday Woo

Wednesday Woo #4: Quantum Woo

For last weeks Wednesday Woo, click here.

“What one man calls God, another calls the laws of physics.”

Nikola Tesla

Quantum mechanics has shown us an entirely different and counter-intuitive physical world that can be conflated into the wildest ideas by those who speculate and misconstrue its findings. There is the variety of folks who claim that it is proof of god, since its spooky action seems almost like what is described in their religious books.

Hebrews 11:3 “By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.”

This idea is even offered in quote mines from the founding fathers of this branch of physics:

Waren Heisenberg: “After the conversations about Indian philosophy, some of the ideas of Quantum Physics that had seemed so crazy suddenly made much more sense.”

Erwin Schrodinger: “This life of yours which you are living is not merely a piece of this entire existence, but in a certain sense the whole; only this whole is not so constituted that it can be surveyed in one single glance. This, as we know, is that sacred, mystic formula which is yet really so simple and so clear; tat tvam asi, this is you. Or, again, in such words as “I am in the east and the west, I am above and below, I am this entire world.”

While this seems like great proof for the idea that the ancient ideas of reality have been revealed through quantum mechanics, it’s nothing more than wishful thinking. It’s true that some of the great minds who made discoveries in this field of science were familiar with the ancient texts of the vedas, as well as the bible, but this doesn’t mean their discoveries proved them. There also tends to be no real way of conveying the message of these scientific phenomena to the masses without taking a romantic and familiar approach. Granted, some of them may have followed such magical thinking, while some did not. Einstein expressed himself with the romantic antics of the spiritual, while maintaining a form of deism – which lacks a personal god.

Some of them actually seemed to have a god belief, like Werner Heisenberg, who claimed, “The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.”

There is also Erwin Schroedinger, who in the spirit of the Vedas expressed, “In itself, the insight is not new. The earliest records, to my knowledge date back some 2500 years or more… the recognition ATMAN = BRAHMAN (the personal self equals the omnipresent, all-comprehending eternal self) was in Indian thought considered, far from being blasphemous, to represent the quintessence of deepest insight into the happenings of the world.”

One thing that must be considered when going through all of these quotes and ideas of quantum mechanics is that not all of those who study physics are theists. Victor Stenger , a renowned particle physicist and author, is atheist, as are Sean Michael Carroll, and Lawrence Krauss. So which is it? Natural science proves god, or doesn’t it? If it truly proved the god-claim, surely all of those who gain an understanding of it would alter their belief accordingly. It just goes to show that mere quotes are not real evidence of anything. It also demonstrates that even when a scientist thinks they have proven the mystical realm, further experimenting may reveal they have not.

“So which is it? Natural science proves god, or doesn’t it?”

Since the double-slit experiment has made it into the mainstream era of spiritualism, it has been attached to the claim that the “non-duality” function of particles shows the yin-yang attributes of reality, and that the physical world is guided by consciousness because particles seem to change when observed. Some will even go so far as to say that reality simply doesn’t exist at all. Therefore, magic is real, and we are merely consciousness experiencing itself. We = god, right? Not exactly…

Experiments at the quantum level behave differently because they are being done at an atomic and subatomic level. It’s difficult to imagine such a world on our much larger scale, simply because our perspective differs. If we were 2 dimensional beings, it would be quite strange to experiment with a 3D world. Such is the same with the realm of the very small. Although, there have been experiments created that demonstrate what occurs at the quantum level for us to see.

As was demonstrated above, the actions at the quantum level do not prove that reality doesn’t exist. The moon is still revolving around the earth, even when you’re not looking.

Now to get to this “observer” phenomenon. An observer, as defined by quantum physics, differs from the layman idea of observation; much like the definition of the word “theory” differs from how we utilize it in daily life. An observer in physics is what interacts with the particles in an effort to find measurements and obtain data. Since the quantum world is much, MUCH smaller than what we are accustomed to interacting with, any measurement of it can interfere with behaviors seen. It has nothing to do with consciousness, since it can be seen occurring even without a conscious, human observer.

So how about that duality function of particles, eh? It’s rather funny, since I know a bit about duality in terms of its spiritual connotations. According to woo-woo, duality is an illusion caused by ego: the I -vs- other dynamic. In the philosophy, the “I” doesn’t exist, and all that exists is “One”.  I’m not sure how the particle-wave duality has anything to do with this other than the label “duality”. I am sure there are people who will stretch their logical faculties pretty far to make the connection, but in truth, there is none.

Why would the spiritual woo-woo and god-botherers claim that science proves consciousness is magic? For one, it fills up their community with credulous believers who will fall for any sort of claim they make. Such communities make for great sales, since word-of-mouth recommendations travel faster than the speed of any debunking. Do a quick google search for quantum healing, and you will be flooded with everything from magic jewelry to reiki. Apparently this is a very lucrative prospect. Check out the nano wand from China.

Wand

There was a stretch of time were I believed that quantum mechanics was some sort of proof that our reality is directly connected to consciousness and god. In fact, it took me a while to come out of this ideology. It wasn’t until I became open-minded to being wrong about these notions that I found the truth: I was being lied to. I fell for it, hook, line, and sinker – posting the Werner Heisenberg quote about finding god at the bottom of the glass of science over and over again. It was not fun to set aside my ideas about reality, but once I discovered I was wrong, and opened myself up to new evidence, I found much relief and wonder in the truth. I began watching a youtube channel called “Martymer81” where I found a skeptic who truly challenged my thoughts on this subject. I started researching things he said, and reading books from credited physicists like Lawrence Krauss and Stephen Hawking. Come to find out, I was dead wrong when it came to this subject. I had abused physics, used it, and conflated it all because I wanted to find comfort in a reality that seemed confusing, cold, and too rational. But since then, I have discovered the rational world to be one of curiosity as opposed to coldness. There’s so much more to find in science, and to close the door on that for a belief in woo or god is the ultimate closed-minded prospect. If all explanations point to the divine, then what is left to be curious about?

Here’s Martymer81’s take on quantum physics abuse. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

My Journey

My Journey Away From Faith: The Epilogue: Part 2

For part 1 of the epilogue, click here.
To start at the beginning of my journey, click here.

 

I remember the first time I saw my nephew, from behind the window in the nursery at the hospital. He was so small and fragile, but so perfect in every way. I loved him from the first moment I laid eyes on him and as he has grown we have been close. Even today, if I see him from afar, he will scream at the top of his lungs, “Uncle Matt” and then come running to give me a hug.

When he was just a couple of months old, I took care of him for a night so that his parents could have a night out. He had such a cute smile and an inquisitive look on his face even at that age.  I knew that this kid was going to be something special, but I never realized the role that he would play in my own life.

Things took a downward turn when he was around a year old. My nephew seemed to not be developing at the rate that one would expect a boy his age to progress. At first doctors believed that he might suffer from some form of hearing loss, since he wouldn’t turn towards you if you were speaking to him. They ran a bunch of tests and could find nothing wrong with his ears, at least nothing physically wrong. He could hear it just seemed like his attention was always on something other than the person trying to get his attention.

By two he still hadn’t really began talking much. I’m very proud to say that the first two words that he put together were “Uncle” and “Matt”, but outside of that he could use a few simple words but definitely not the vocabulary of other children his age. He would also throw horrible fits with no apparent cause, failed to speak when spoken to and would fight making eye contact vigorously.

“I knew that this kid was going to be something special, but I never realized the role that he would play in my own life.”

By three he had began talking more but was showing some visible and verbal tics which was a cause for concern of his parents. He didn’t really play with his toys but would spend time lining them up or sorting them. He loved trains and we spent a lot of time watching Thomas the Train together any time I was around him. He wanted you to watch with him but not talk, talking while it was on could throw him into another fit.

I began doing my own research, as I do when something bothers me, and found many of his symptoms were related to autism. At first his parents were insulted but they did take him to the doctor and have him checked out. The doctor sent him on to a specialist and after a couple of sessions, the specialist gave his diagnosis: Moderate Autism.

I felt bad for my brother and sister-in-law, but worse for my nephew. I knew how cruel the world could be for someone who was “normal” like me and I decided to spend huge amounts of time looking up information, finding ways to communicate better with my nephew and ways that I might be able to help him avoid some of the bullying that I had experienced. I knew he was going to have to be tough in order to face the world as I had and so by looking up this stuff, I could give it to my brother and sister-in-law so that they might help him as well.

I was thrown way back to a time when I would wake up early, sneak into the kitchen and spend time playing in my mothers cabinets, sorting and stacking.

One day something clicked, I was watching my nephew stack things according to size shape, or just in a line making a train with them. I was thrown way back to a time when I would wake up early, sneak into the kitchen and spend time playing in my mothers cabinets, sorting and stacking. I then remembered my sticker collection, it was my favorite thing for several years as a child. I never used the stickers, never once did I put any of them on anything, all I did with them was sort them in various ways; size, shape, color, etc…

cans.jpg

I walked over and sat down beside my nephew. He kept playing, making loud “Choo-Choo” sounds as he built his train. When he wasn’t looking I switched out two of the pieces of the train, taking them out-of-order. When he looked back he instantly yelled, “NO!” He then went directly to the pieces that I had moved and put them back in the order that they been in before I had moved them.

My mind began to make connections, I saw much of myself in this small child with a few major exceptions. The similarities were his tantrums, getting easily overwhelmed, his stacking and sorting habit, his dislike of anyone new, and his seeming inability to make eye contact. The last one had actually struck me earlier, when it had first been mentioned before he had even gotten his diagnosis. When I had been a small child, I had gotten in trouble from teachers for not paying attention to me, and several had spoken to my parents about the fact that I didn’t make eye contact. One of my worst childhood memories is of a teacher grabbing me by the face and forcefully turning my head with both hands, making me look at her directly in the eyes. It terrified me then and still gives me chills today. Today I do a pretty good job at faking eye contact, looking at someone’s forehead or teeth instead of their eyes has been my technique and people only rarely notice.  Lastly, in the similarities, we both hated being touched, especially when we aren’t ready for it.

The exceptions were that I had been highly verbal at a very young age, I had never had trouble communicating with family and only had communication issues with those outside my family. Learning had come easy to me, for those things I was interested in, and had been considered gifted during my early years of school. Only when I got to the age that certain subjects really bothered me, or were advanced enough that I struggled to teach myself how to do them, did some consider me to have a slight learning disability. While I had displayed some tics as a child, flapping my hands when excited and spinning in circles, I had gotten in trouble for doing them so often that I had forced myself to stop. I still fidget constantly, but at the time didn’t see this as anything out of the ordinary.

My life at the time of these discoveries wasn’t the best and so I basically considered it as something interesting that I could look into at a later date. Several years later though, on the cusp of my second divorce, after leaving the ministry, did I remember these issues. My nephew has grown and has developed quite a bit, his vocabulary is much better, he is intensely into video games, and even considered gifted in math and science at school. Sadly, he is bullied almost constantly by certain kids and absolutely hates school. When my mother mentioned that he throws a tantrum every morning and cries his eyes out before he goes to school, another click occurred in my brain. It was just like me at his age. Around this same point I had begun watching “Parenthood” which features a male child with Aspergers, and an adult that comes to realize he has Asperger’s through interaction with the child. It was as if I was watching my own life on screen.

I went home and began researching autism. I google searched “different types of autism” and found links describing the spectrum and how different those people on the spectrum can be from one another. I found an article about Aspergers Syndrome and, as I read through the symptoms, it was as if I was reading something written specifically with me in mind. One of the things that really hit me discussed sensory issues and overloads. I had experienced this my entire life without ever having a name to put to it. It’s an awful experience and something that I can’t really be described in a good way. When people ask me what it is like, I tell them, it is like every one of my senses experiencing the feeling of nails on a chalkboard.

At the bottom of the article there was a link to a quiz which I followed and took.  It was an Autism Quotient quiz and I scored 45 out of 50, very high likelihood of autism. I took several other quizzes from various sources, and each one I landed in the very high likelihood range for autism. A new idea began to come into my mind, this is me…

My head swam with all of this new information. Everything suddenly made complete and perfect sense. All of the struggles, all of the bullying, all the times I had people pray over me to rid me of my shyness, and heartache I had experienced swirled around this fact that had remained hidden from me for so long, I had autism. I knew that my autism wasn’t quite the same as my nephews but that’s what it was. The only problem in my mind was what do I now do with this information?

Several sites that I found spoke of self diagnosis. This is where someone decides, through their own research and life experience, that they have autism and are happy to live out their life without ever getting a diagnosis. This worked for me for well over a year. I hated the idea of going to a psychiatrist or a psychologist. This stems from both my hatred of meeting and talking with new people and the fact that I had been raised to believe psychiatry was, more or less, evil. So I would self diagnose and be happy with that for the next couple of years…

To continue on to part 3 of the epilogue, click here.

My Journey

My Journey Away From Faith: The Epilogue: Part 1

For part 28 of my journey, click here.
To start at the beginning of my journey, click here.

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

– “Alice In Wonderland” Lewis Carroll

We’re going way back in time today. Long before I became and Atheist. Back before I became a minister. Further back than my time in Texas or my first time preaching at twelve. We are going all the way back to my early childhood. A time before religion had even had a real chance to lay its talons into me yet.

I made my parents incredibly proud when I began talking not long after my first birthday. By three years old I had leaned all of my numbers and had taught myself to read simple books, through watching Sesame street for the most part. The only thing that caused my parents concern was how deeply shy I was.

At five years old they had attempted to put me into kindergarten, I have shrieked so loudly and for so long that the school decided it would be better if I waited another year and developed my social skills a bit better. Just prior to my sixth birthday, my parents took me to a doctor and asked him about my shyness. The doctor told my parents that my shyness was nothing to worry about, all they needed to do was encourage me to make friends, put me into social situations, and soon I would grow out of my shyness.

From the moment I started school, I absolutely hated it. Every morning, before getting on the bus, I would throw a horrific tantrum, bawl my eyes out, and then once on the bus I would bawl my entire way to school. I would continue throwing a fit well into the first couple of hours of class, by that time I would begin to get hungry and forget about the tantrum I had meant to throw throughout the entire day.

This lasted until I was in the third grade. I went to school on the first day and once again bawled my eyes out, the teacher walked over, bent down, and told me that third graders don’t cry about going to school because they are big kids now. That was the last day I cried before school but I never lost the feelings of terror being around other children.

Other children made no sense to me. They played games that I hated, they talked about stupid things with their stupid friends and pretended to be even more stupid things with their stupid friends. It wasn’t just my religious background that made me different. The strange thing that these kids enjoyed being around each other, I hated being around just about anyone. I got along with adults and would bug the teachers about everything. The kids recognized that I wasn’t like them at all and I was treated to bullying every day of my school years. I had very poor coordination, and even trying my best I couldn’t fight back well enough to keep people from picking on me and so I just went through it. I hated life and life seemed to hate me.

Every report card would say the exact same things. Doesn’t play well with others, doesn’t respond when spoken to, struggles to make eye contact. My grades were on both sides of the scale. In classes I enjoyed I got great grades and was seen as above average, in other classes that I didn’t enjoy, I was below average. I actually flunked gym class twice during my school years…I might actually be proud of that part…

By my teenage years I had finally made a handful of friends, but I didn’t seem to have friends like others around me did. I could go weeks without talking to a friend, not because I didn’t like them but because I didn’t have anything to say to them. My friends were mostly social outcasts themselves and so we were more or less people who the rest of the kids couldn’t stand so we accepted each other in some small strange way. One thing really separated me from my other friends and that was ideas of sex….

My friends seemingly loved talking about sex, I on the other hand had absolutely no interest in the topic. At 16 I would rather talk to someone about the latest episode of an anime or power rangers series that I had watched, than discuss sex.  I only became truly interested in the opposite sex at nearly 18, while my other friends had been interested since our early teens.

Another issue that followed me through life was work ethic, or more importantly my complete lack of work ethic. Finding a job was easy, keeping that job was very hard. I would have a job for a few months, get bored, and just stop showing up. I would have bosses call me and scream at me through the phone about being fired and I’d simply hang up and start looking for my next job.  What’s really strange is that I was generally well liked by bosses wherever I worked. It is just that i would become disinterested in something and I would just stop giving a damn, I knew I would lose my job and I knew this would cause me to go through the stress of finding another job, but I just could not make myself care enough to keep from losing a job.

I had always planned on going to college, but there were also some difficulties here. I had great difficulty with algebra, so much so that it would throw me into a tantrum that would last for hours and I also couldn’t write an essay for the life of me.  The problem is, that when I describe something, often times the first portion of what I am describing will come after the second or third items. I had an insane amount of difficulty putting things in the correct order, which led to poor grades in most of my English classes.

During one particular English class in high school, I submitted an essay final, that I had honestly worked on very hard, and received an F. The teacher even went out of her way to tell me that if I couldn’t write a better quality paper than that, I should just drop out of school and not even consider trying to get into college. So I did…I dropped out of school and decided that college wasn’t for me.

I got my GED with the help of Jennifer in Texas. She taught me how to write a proper essay, explaining exactly how to lay things out. The instructor said it was one of the best essay’s he had ever read. This made me feel pretty good but since I had barely passed the algebra portion of the exam, I decided that college still wasn’t for me. The rest is history…

As I have laid out in my blog I bounced from job to job, and finally settled on the ministry. Later I went back to college and did really well. My math instructor saw that I was struggling and talked to me before one class, she told me that math is nothing more than being able to recognize patterns and to try thinking of it that way. From that day on I was an A student in all of my math classes. Literally, i went from not understanding higher mathematics one day to helping tutor other students a few short weeks later.

Throughout my entire life, I had no idea why my mind worked the way it did, and why I was incapable of grasping many things, especially social cues, norms, and awareness.  I honestly figured that I had just been born broken and that there was something completely wrong with me. That is until I met a wonderful bundle of joy, my first nephew.  Shortly after his birth, my life began to make more and more sense. I saw myself in him but that story will have to wait til the next chapter.

To continue on to part two of the epilogue, click here.

My Journey

My Journey Away From Faith: Part 28

For part 27 of my journey, click here.
To start at the beginning of my journey, click here.

“Only I can change my life, no one can do it for me.” -Carol Burnett

Truth be told, from the day after I moved out of my house, I had I become outed as an atheist. My ex-wife went to my former church the next day and told everyone I had left the faith and that I had confided in her about my lack of belief almost a year earlier. The only ones that didn’t truly believe I was an atheist were my parents but I think even they had their own assumptions about my loss of faith.

Coming out entirely was a stressful situation for me and one that I was not quite ready to make. I still had the fact that the restraining order would be ending soon and I would once again be able to contact my kids again. A few days before the restraining order ended I was informed that child protective services had taken them in and they were now living with their biological father many states away. I was hurt that I wouldn’t be able to see them face to face but felt much more sorry for them, about why they had been uprooted from their childhood home.

“I was hurt that I wouldn’t be able to see them face to face but felt much more sorry for them, about why they had been uprooted from their childhood home.”

I won’t go into specifics but it turns out that my ex had abandoned them and moved in with her boyfriend several states away. They had been all alone for a couple of months surviving on the small amount of money my daughter was making at her fast food job. She was only 16 at the time and not ready for that amount of responsibility but I am proud of how well she dealt with being thrown in that situation. Word got around and one of her co-workers had contacted CPS. They were moved to be with their father the next day.

A few days later, the restraining order expired and I sat down at my computer for several hours, typing and then deleting immediately everything that I typed. I was so afraid that they still hated me and would want no part of me in their lives. Finally I types out something along the lines of, “Hi, how are you? I’ve missed you.” I contacted my daughter first as I had heard that my son was still quite angry about everything and wanted to ease into the conversation I would soon have with him.

“Hi, I’m good. I’ve missed you too.”

The response was more joyous than I could ever have imagined. “Hi, I’m good. I’ve missed you too.” I sat and shook crying tears of joy for one of the first times in my life. Those simple words took everything out of me and I struggled to come up with anything else to say. Eventually we began discussing how things had happened and how she had soon come to realize that I had not been the one at fault for the issues in mine and her mother’s marriage. We reconciled and ended the conversation on a very high note.

A few days later I contacted my son. He was definitely still very angry but did attempt his best to share with me how he no longer held me at fault for what had gone on and how he had missed me too. We discussed some of the new video games that were out and how he was doing at his new school. He hated it, but luckily he has come to really enjoy it now. We ended our conversation, not quite on the high note as my conversation had gone with my daughter but still on good terms. Over time this relationship has mended and I cherish my conversations with him.

He’s full of energy, 100% Tasmanian devil and I love him dearly.

With both of those conversations out-of-the-way, it was time to get things at home on a better path. We moved into a nice home a short drive away from the apartment we had been living in. My love, has made for us an excellent home over the last few years. Filled with warmth and love that was so lacking in years past. I am truly “blessed” to have the two of them in my life and to have my relationship with my other two kids mended.  Jennifer also has a son who lives with his father and I have a great relationship with him as well. He’s full of energy, 100% Tasmanian devil and I love him dearly. My life has become a wonderful experience and I am so happy to have found my real place within it.

A short time after moving into our new place, I purchased “The God Delusion,” by Richard Dawkins. Within it he lays out a 7 point scale describing 100% Theist to 100% Atheist. I found that I fit with his own idea of being a 6.9 Atheist. Not quite saying I have proof that god doesn’t exist but enough to say that the idea of a god is highly unlikely. At this point I decided what I really was is an atheist. Since that point I have read other books by various authors such as: Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Dan Barker, Jerry Dewitt, Daniel Dennett, and many others.

When I finally came out as an atheist, I began posting on various groups discussing my journey away from faith. I was encouraged to contact “The Clergy Project” and see about membership there. I was also encouraged to share my story in a blog many times over those month. About a year later I joined “The Clergy Project” and considered starting my blog, but at the time I was far too angry.

Many people will speak of the anger they feel when they finally admit their lack of belief. Realizing how much of your life has been built around a pile of lies is a truly traumatic experience, and anger is something you must go through before finally settling in to a comfortable new normal. I needed to adjust my parents to the new me, thus I needed to figure out who the new me was.  Finally, I felt as if I could create this blog while keeping my emotions in check. I hope I have done well in describing my experience.

Another Journey awaited me in the few years just prior to admitting my atheism. I have always had a mind that I believed was very different from others around me, and have always wondered why. In the last few months I have finally had confirmed what I have assumed for so many years. I hope you will enjoy learning about my journey to that realization in the coming days and weeks ahead.

Thank you so much for following my journey up to this point. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to everyone who has shared this journey with me. You the readers are what have made this blog worth writing. Thank you!

To continue on to the epilogue and another journey I’ve been on the past several years, click here.