The Diary Of My Mind

Only Survivors Live

So tonight I got a bit of inspiration while watching “The Atheist Experience.” If you haven’t checked out that show I recommend you do so as soon as possible. Anyway, onto tonight’s article about the fact that only the survivors live.

plane.jpg

Let’s say a plane crash occurs and half the people in the plane die while the other half survive. The odds of being someone who lived is an even 50%, so not great odds. However if you are giving an interview after the crash, then the odds are 100% that you survived. So the survivors tale is going to spread much more quickly than if you were one of the 50% of people who didn’t make it. Surviving a traumatic event can seem otherworldly but it’s important to remember that in any situation others were not nearly as fortunate.

cancer.jpg

To bring this to a new perspective, let’s talk about cancer. I understand it’s not a fun topic but it is something that will affect nearly everyone who reads this at some point or another. I’m sure we have all heard of people who get cancer, they get prayed for, and then they are cured of their cancer, however, many times the cure involves surgery, chemotherapy, and other medicinal routines.  Sadly though the medicinal side of this is often times negated and the cure is claimed as a miracle.

Now I’m not saying that spontaneous remissions do not occur, they do but the thing to remember is that we don’t know why spontaneous remission occurs. The other thing to remember here is that spontaneous remission occurs both inside and outside of any ideology. Sometimes the body fights back and until we have a better understanding of why this is we will just have to say we don’t know.

My problem lies in those who claim that all of the medical treatment they went through was secondary to the miracle that god performed on their body. My grandfather is a great example of this fact. About 10 years ago he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He went through radiation and eventually had his prostate removed. Yet today, he will claim to have been healed by god of his prostate cancer…which only took having his prostate completely removed. Can’t have prostate cancer if you no longer have a prostate….right?

So the problem here is actually that he survived cancer and so his story continues to move forward. The belief in miracles is built up and many people are given false hope in regards to this problem. The story of him having his prostate removed and the year he went through radiation treatment which did nothing to stop the cancer is almost never mentioned.

So let’s say you are another person going through prostate cancer and you hear the story that my grandfather promotes. You aren’t going to hear the story of the thousands of believers who have died over the years from the disease but only those who survived. So you put all of your faith into the idea that god is going to cure you of prostate cancer. You forego cancer treatment and scoff when the doctor tells you that you need to have your prostate removed. You know in your heart of hearts that god is going to cure you because you’ve earnestly sought him and you know that the “fervent prayers of a righteous man availeth much.” (-James 5:16) Then you die and no one ever hears of your story, yet my grandfathers false story of a miracle healing from god continues on down the line.

Only the survivors live and if you are alive today it is because you have survived. Think about it…if you hadn’t survived you would be dead. It’s simple logic and yet it leads people to believe numerous fallacies about their own life.  You of course remember all of the times that you could have died and yet didn’t, you begin to build feelings around the idea that something outside of you was protecting you from harm and yet the truth of the matter is simply that you survived and are not dead.

accident prone

My own life for example:

  • I stopped breathing as a child.
  • I’ve been in numerous car accidents.
  • I fell out of a tree as a child and landed on my head.
  • I’ve had several bad infections throughout my life.
  • I drowned and had to be resuscitated by my father at around 5 years old.
  • A car hit my bicycle while I was riding it and I survived unscathed.
  • I’ve fallen off of ladders.
  • I’ve fallen off of a roof…twice on the same day.
  • I’ve survived a fire.
  • I gotten a bad electrical shock a couple of times.

This doesn’t even touch on all of the things that has happened in my life. I’m actually pretty accident prone which is a big reason why I try my best to steer clear of any type of power tool or firearm. However all of the things that I have gone through could have and do result in death numerous times per year. Now, some might say that it’s a miracle that I am still alive, yet in reality it’s just that I seem to be pretty hard to kill. I’m alive today because I didn’t die during any of those situations or the numerous others that I didn’t mention here.

So hopefully after you’ve read this article you’ll see that miracles are promoted as miracles because the people who “experience” them promote them as miracles. Then word of mouth goes around and at times the miracle can get even larger. Information is often times left out in order to make the healing appear to be more miraculous and this can lead many to have false hope for their own miraculous healing and could lead them to forgo necessary medical procedures out of that hope.

If you are here today it is simply due to the fact that you haven’t died yet. Everyone that isn’t here today is dead or they haven’t been born yet. One day you too will die. Life is far too short to put your hope in the illogical notion of a miracle.


 

If you haven’t checked out my journey from Pentecostal Minister to Atheist, check it out here. My Journey Away From Faith: Part 1

The Diary Of My Mind

Magical Thinking BS

So I thought I would jump on here and talk a little bit about something that has really been bothering me lately, magical thinking. Magical thinking is a means of elevating your own status in an effort to give a higher purpose to ones life, however, from my own experience it tends to lead people down a path to depression, sickness, and alienation from reality. In this article I’d like to touch on what magical thinking is, how it is harmful, and how one can still find purpose and joy in a life free from this style of thinking.

Magical thinking takes on many form. Many religions teach that this world in which we live is really just a proving grounds for a better life in the hereafter. Christianity also has the “Name it and claim it” crowd which teaches that if someone wants something bad enough and has faith enough, then they will ultimately be granted their want. Other forms of magical thinking include belief in “the secret,” past life fantasies, believing oneself to be an “empath,” karma, synchronicity, and many, many, others.

The key aspect of all of these beliefs is that they allow a person to believe that they are more, or superior, to the others around them. Spend any amount of time in an “enlightenment” group on Facebook and you will quickly see what I am talking about. Thousands of voices speaking about how they have reached a stage in enlightenment which only they can guide others toward. One of the funniest things you will find is that the majority of these “enlightened masters,” will claim that one must remove all aspects of ego from your life in order to reach this state,  however, what could be more egotistical than to claim that you are an enlightened master?

So why do people fall for these beliefs? As stated above, it allows a person to believe they are more than the average man or woman, and in this way they feel special. If you haven’t noticed, life can suck at times. It is in those times that we feel the worst that we are most susceptible to magical thinking. My personal conversion to Christianity came at a point when I thought that life couldn’t possibly get any worse. I could try to make my way through life or I could become a “child of god” and gain a heavenly home for myself free from all care and worry when my life ends. Simply put, it feels great to delude yourself, at least for a time, and so many are drawn into this type of thinking.

The problem in this lies with the fact that delusion can only stand if you continue feeding it. Over time, these delusions will grow and what once seemed ridiculous will now be accepted as truth. To bring my personal story back into this, my own faith grew from Christian, to minister, to healer, to prophet, to my ultimate downfall and the crushing reality of all the time wasted on these harmful ideals. Now some might say, what harm is there in allowing folks to believe whatever they want to believe?

The harm comes from the futility of these beliefs and how fragile they actually are. Many will claim that god or a force in the universe is all-powerful, can do anything, and all we have to do is remove every aspect of our humanity in order to reap the benefits of this god or universal force. When one fails to receive these gifts, it is seen as due to a lack of faith, bad karma, or that you have been too judgmental and not accepting enough of the universal will. What these feelings ultimately lead to is depression and the one thing which will pull any delusional person out of a depression is a deeper and more fantastical delusion.

In my short time in this world I have met numerous people who believe themselves to be aliens, claim to communicate with rocks, pray to unicorns, claim they can kill me with a hex, angrily condemn me for not being open to the idea of a flat earth, alien seeding, or that all the governments of the world are working together to destroy our ability to ascend to a higher plane of existence. What I have found within the depths of these beliefs is a deep sadness, a longing to find purpose where no purpose is found, a need to hide the scars of their past, and an anger for the life that they find themselves in. Find me an “enlightened master” and I will show you a human that has grasped at life for so long and felt so alienated by the world that they believed they had no choice but to delve deeply into a comforting delusion.

There is good news, though maybe not as good as some would hope. Taking off the mask of delusion that you built up for so long is not a pretty process. It involves pain, heartache, and many setbacks. Over time though you will find that life is a wondrous place filled with joys and experiences to fill a thousand lifetimes. Life will also suck at times, you’ll go through rough times and it will be up to you to bring yourself back out of it, but it is possible.

In the last several years since my deconversion, I have gone through some very rough patches. I’ve experienced depression, anxiety, fear of the unknown, and all sorts of calamities, yet I’m still here. I enjoy life and have found other ways to deal with life issues when they hit. No longer do I turn to magical thinking and a belief in something greater that will rescue me from my life, it’s all up to me now and I am doing it.

We all want to feel special and that life has some purpose yet the truth is, we are all organic matter. We are born, we live, we pass on our genes, and then we die. In order to live life to the fullest we all must find ways to add purpose and this is our greatest strength. God didn’t cure polio, a man did. The universe didn’t invent the pacemaker, we did. Literature doesn’t write itself, men and women do. Mountains are climbed, great leaps in technology and medicine are made, the chains of slavery have been broken, women attained rights, and humanity is the central character in all of these. We’ve driven animals to extinction and brought species back from the brink of that same fate. Life is what we make of it and so far humanity has done a pretty damn good job.

For thousands of years, a simple case of the stomach flu would almost surely mean death. God, the universe, and karma were completely powerless to stop the ravages that plague committed with mankind and yet we stopped it. We worked towards a goal and now the flu generally means a couple of missed days at work, some medicine, and plenty of fluids. We live in a wonderful time that our ancestors would have seen as completely magical, yet reality brought us to where we are and reality is what will take us into the future.

The Diary Of My Mind

An Atheist In Iowa: The Holiday Special

Deck the halls with boughs of Holly, falalalala-lala-la-la!

So I haven’t written in a long time….at least it seems like a long time…and so I was sitting here just thinking about the holidays that are soon to be upon us. I thought that it might be a good idea to offer some of the tips to other people who are new to being an atheist.

1.) Celebrate however you want

Personally I celebrate Christmas, some Atheists celebrate the Solstice, while others may choose not to celebrate at all. It’s up to you. There is no wrong way to celebrate or abstain from celebrating. In my own case, I will be listening to all the Christmas songs and carols throughout the centuries. I love reading about mythology and I see Christmas as nothing more than a big celebration of various mythologies. It’s pretend and fun so I enjoy it in all the ways one could.

2.) Not every argument is worth having

Being the atheist at a holiday dinner can be awkward at times. If you are out as I am, someone might make a snide remark about your atheism. I have found that it is not worth ruining the holiday in order to be right and so I just don’t engage when someone mentions something about faith or “the real reason for the season.” Families often times have prayers before meals and I have been asked before to give thanks. It’s easy enough to give a short statement of thanks, without ever bringing god into the picture, instead of refusing and possibly hurting a loved one.

3.) Remember that Atheism should free the mind and not chain it to a new form of dogma

I understand the anger that you might feel when you leave the faith. Most of us have gone through this and while it does get better, you might still experience it from time to time even years later. Anger has a way of setting us in our way and making us close our minds to the thoughts and ideas of those around us. During the holidays you might hear something that really pisses you off. However, take a moment to think things over before taking a huge stance against it. Atheists can actually be just as dogmatic about their lack of faith as a fundamentalist can, as strange as that may sound. So try to remember, your atheism shouldn’t define you, it should just be.

4.) Maybe lay off the drinks

Look, it’s going to be a bit awkward and tense, especially if you are out about your atheism. So what will almost certainly make matters worse? Alcohol. Listen, we’re human and I know that we think a couple of drinks will loosen things up and make it a bit more comfortable. However, a couple of drinks can also loosen the tongue and lower inhibitions. It might feel right, to the drunk you, to tell grandma about all the contradictions in the New Testament. However, sober you the next day will more than likely be making a very awkward apology call to your octogenarian grandmother.

5.) Have Fun!

Enjoy your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. The holidays, when you get right down to it, are actually….as sad as it may seem….anti-suicide celebrations. Now that might seem like a strange statement bit think about it and notice how all the big holidays are during the winter months, when the days are shorter and the nights seem so much longer and colder. Holidays help break up the monotony and bring people together so that they can share the love and warmth of their fellow human beings. So enjoy yourself as much as you can. While there may not be a higher purpose, we are still all in this together.

Much love to you and yours during this holiday season. Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, Saturnalia, Yule, or whatever else you might choose to celebrate.

The Diary Of My Mind

Rudeness

Throughout the years I have often times been called rude for things that I have said or done. Things that I didn’t consider rude or insensitive at the time and still have great difficulty understanding why these things are considered rude. I have come to understand this as part of my autism which makes social norms not make sense to me, but even so it’s still weird to me that some of these things are considered rude. Now, I’m not saying that I can’t be rude, of course I can. What I am saying is that some of the things that NT’s consider rude make little or no sense at all when you actually look at them.

So I decided to make a short list of some things that make no sense to me…

5.) No saying “bless you” when someone sneezes

So, someone is in your presence and they blow germs all over the room. It is then your responsibility to say “bless you?” Are you thanking them for covering you in germs? Are you literally worried that their spirit is going to escape their body to be replaced by a demon? This common act is so ridiculous to me and I never do it.
Now it hasn’t happened often but I have had people get very upset with me because I didn’t say those two words after they had sneezed. Isn’t that a silly thing to get mad about?

4.) Not saying “excuse me” after burping or farting

Okay, now what the fuck is up with this. A sneeze is to be greeted with a blessing but a fart is to be treated with contempt. Now I understand that a fart or burp can smell bad but they don’t generally make someone sick, whereas a sneeze can lead to a plethora of health issues.
Also, excuse me for what, a natural body function? Everyone farts and burps. Animals throughout nature fart and burp, hell even fish fart. Manatees fart in order to maintain their buoyancy. Why should I feel sorry for something that happens naturally to everyone?

3.)Telling the Truth

This one really gets me. The vast majority of people would rather be lied to a million times than to hear a single harsh truth. For me, I love knowing the truth of things. I’m not saying that I am always right, but I try to speak only the truth and factual information. I find though that I am in the minority.
Over time I have had many people get upset with me because I either told the truth or corrected them on something they were incorrect on. You might ask, “Well, do you like being corrected?” Actually, yes, I do. If I am factually incorrect on something I want to know it.

2.) Disliking something that the majority enjoys

I hate “Game of Thrones.” I am a Tolkien fan and I feel that GoT is nothing more than a wannabe Tolkien epic. With that said I do not go out of my way to insult the show, however, I’ve had numerous people get upset with me over my dislike of the show. This response completely perplexes me.
Perhaps it is the fact that I am so used to people not enjoying my own interests. I cannot remember a time where I actually got mad at someone for disliking something that I enjoy. I have gotten annoyed in the past when someone simply dismisses my own interests as dumb but I cannot think of any time that I have ever gotten mad just because they didn’t like what I did.

1.) Not Understanding Funerals

I guess this is the whole point of the entire post really. My grandmothers funeral is coming up and I guess I have no choice but to go. Funerals though make no sense to me and they never have.
I am told that a funeral is really for the grieving family and not for the person that has passed away. I guess this makes sense but does the dead body or ashes have to be the centerpiece of the event? Just being in the same room as a dead body creeps me the fuck out. I know that I am going to be uncomfortable, I will be greeted by people who don’t really give a shit about me, offering condolences and prayers that are meaningless. If it wasn’t the fact that I feel like I am being forced to go, I wouldn’t…
However, not attending a funeral is seen as rude and insulting to booth the family and the deceased person….even though the deceased person can’t actually get insulted anymore. So just so we’re clear….when I die…if they have a funeral…I won’t care if you don’t come…just saying.

 

Anyway these are just a few of the things that really make no sense to me. I hope you have enjoyed my mindless wandering through this post. Thank you for reading.

 

The Diary Of My Mind

Dealing with Stuff and Things

Life can be incredibly overwhelming to me. For many years I have enjoyed watching the news and discussing current events. Current events were at one point one of my focused interests. I could and still can tell you just about every important news story that happened throughout the day. I used to love keeping up to date but lately this has become a chore and in many cases a terrifying experience.

All of my life I have dealt with fear. I was raised during the era of “Stranger Danger”, at the tail end of the cold war. Life it seemed could be ended for everyone at any point and everyone knew “drop and cover” would do absolutely nothing in the event of a nuclear war. Being a fundamentalist at the time added an extra layer of fear because, at any point, Jesus could return and if you were a sinner it would mean hell for all eternity.

Then things got better. The cold war ended, the world began eliminating its nuclear stockpiles, and humanity seemed to possibly be turning a corner. We had our first African-American president, gay marriage was legalized, and universal healthcare seemed to be a very real possibility in our near future. There was no doubt in mine and many others minds that we were entering a world where anything was possible.

Then the debacle of an election occurred on November 8th occurred and all of that forward progress stopped.

I can no longer turn on the news and enjoy myself. Every day a new awful thing has occurred. One day we hear that the President is goading the North Koreans to a nuclear war, the next day we learn that birth control will no longer be covered by insurance, hell maybe whacking seals with clubs will become the new national past time tomorrow? Seriously, how bad is it going to get?

I am not one for hyperbole. I really couldn’t give a shit it the president hates Rosie O’Donnell. If he wants to tweet about how bad the ratings of the apprentice are now, have at it. I don’t care if he eats pizza with a knife and fork, or that he can’t form a coherent sentence to save his life. I honestly don’t care about 90% of what the news makes a big deal out of, but after listening for 15 minutes, my heart is racing, I start sweating, and my breath shortens.

If I could, I would just hide myself away from society.

People are so fucking exhausting. The world is fucking exhausting. Simply the idea of leaving my house anymore is fucking exhausting. Who knows, maybe today will be the day that I’m at a store when some moron starts shooting the place up. The facts are that half of the country wants to make positive changes that could help the country and the other half simply doesn’t give a shit about anything at all it seems.

I find myself joining that side of the equation from the opposite end of the spectrum. I don’t give a shit anymore because the vast majority of people don’t give a shit. Leave me alone to my books, my movies, my games, and my own thoughts. Let me have my dreams of a better world that will more than likely never exist. Do what you want, destroy the fucking world if that what you see fit to do, just leave me and my little niche the fuck alone.

So to get back to the topic at hand, how do I deal with this world and how overwhelming it is at times?

Short answer: I don’t.

Long answer: I really fucking don’t.

The Diary Of My Mind

Memento Mori

Stress is a strange thing for me, I guess it’s strange for all of us but for me it is very hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that is stressing me out. Obviously my grandmothers illness was wearing my mind out completely because today I had a really good day at work. Not only was I focused but I was back to the extreme focus and motivation to get a lot done that had been missing for several weeks now.

Add to this I’ve changed my shift to showing up an hour earlier, that means I get to work before things get busy and am able to get a lot of work done before things get too hectic. This led to a much less stressful day by itself. I’m incredibly averse to change but this was something that I needed to do for my mental well-being. It was a good choice and while I will have some issues with the change over the next few weeks I’m sure in the end it will have been the correct choice.

So back to my main stressor, my grandmother. I had a dream last night. I saw my grandmother lying there on the bed dying, we sat there for hours waiting to hear anything. All of a sudden she shot upright in bed, looked at me and said,

“I’m dead, Matthew, you can move on now.”

Some would believe this was a paranormal experience, that my grandmother visited me in my dream. However, being that I put no stock in those beliefs I believe the more logical explanation…My brain was telling me that my stress can now subside, I no longer need to worry about my grandmother because there is nothing that worrying can do. She’s dead…tomorrow she will still be dead, the next day she will still be dead, and a year from now she will still be dead, my life however can move on.

I awoke in a good mood, I went to work in a good mood, I completed my tasks in a good mood and as I write this I am still in a good mood. Life is moving on and with it my mind and body can get back to its normal. I loved my grandmother but nothing will bring her back, my life however is something that I can regain control over.

“Memento Mori”, remember that you have to die.  Death will one day come to me as well, but not for now, for now I will write. As Epictetus, the Stoic Philosopher said,

“I have to die. If it is now, well then I die now; if later, then now I will take my lunch, since the hour for lunch has arrived – and dying I will tend to later.”

The Diary Of My Mind

Back From Hiatus

So I haven’t been on here for a bit and just thought I would jump on and write something to let you all know that I’m still here.

So my grandmother passed away a couple of days ago and I think I’m okay. It hit me pretty hard the night she died but since then I’ve entered a beautiful state of denial which I’m not sure how to get out of. Death is so strange to me, it seems like my grandmother is still here and alive, I don’t mean in a physical or metaphysical sense but simply that I haven’t fully accepted her death yet. Life will go on and I know I will one day come to accept that her life has ended but when that will occur is anyone’s guess.

Secondly, my car broke down about a week and a half ago and I finally got it up and running again. I had a brake line that busted and required new lines to be installed. I bought the car less than a year ago and boy has it been a headache. Nothing too serious and mostly stuff that occurs on all cars at some point but the regularity of the breakdowns has been quite the stress inducer on my mind over the last year.

Third, my credit card got compromised the same day that my grandmother passed. It’s a low balance card and so when someone attempted to charge nearly $500 dollars to it, the card company instantly shut the card down. The good news is that I’m not out any money. The bad news is that I am out a credit card for the next week.

Lastly, I still am waiting to get my CPAP machine. The doctor forgot to fill out and submit some paperwork to the medical supply company. While this simply means a few extra days until I get the machine, it does mean that I am not getting any rest at the moment, which is something I am in horrible need of at the moment.

Anyhow, these are the things that have created my writers block over the last few weeks. I do feel like I am getting things under control, at least to a certain degree, and will be able to write more frequently over the coming days and weeks. Life is once again pulling itself back to equilibrium and I at least can put some thoughts together for this blog tonight.

So, now, what is the real topic of this blog?

The real reason I am writing tonight is to describe the existential crisis that I am having at the moment. Life is literally meaningless. We exist, we live, we die, and we probably do some fucking and shitting in between there. I’ve realized that in the grand scheme of things we are all Candide, believing the world has some deeper meaning for us, following systems of belief that ultimately fail, and finding that life is a cruel and indecent mistress, bent on killing us in some way or another.

When I say that life is meaningless, I’m not saying there are not good parts to life, nor am I stating that I am feeling suicidal in any fashion whatsoever. I’m actually a fairly happy person but I see life as completely absurd. We are monkeys that put on suits and pretend we are far more important in the grand scheme of things than any of us actually are. Think of the most important public figure today, and realize that they won’t even be a paragraph worth of material for students 300 years in the future. How much less will the rest of our lives be in regards to our posterity?

Anyway, I’m not the best at describing these feelings. I recommend watching the videos below to gain a better understanding of exactly what an existential crisis is and how one finds themselves going through one. Thank you for reading and have a great week!