This is pretty nice I feel it deserves an answer. Here's the comment as a whole:
Joe, I am,as an optimist feel sure that you will, one day cast off that yoke of Xian dogma, & join us in the joyous freedom of dis-belief of ALL those man-made holy books, all those man-made religions, all those man-made gods.Join us on the ExChristian.net site. We are many hundreds of former Xans of many 'different stripes'. Main line, fundamentalist, evangelical people of all ages & former strongly held beliefs. This includes former preachers, with PHDs in religion. You are welcome to post any & all thoughts-even Xian ones. We all share the right to state our thoughts & all can share in responding to all posts. You may find it helpful in requiring thought, logic, common-sense & reason. Give it a shot, Joe. There is a book that I think may help you. "When God Becomes a Drug.By Bart Aikins. Please vdon't feel that this is a criticism of you. You are a victim- one of countless millions. I am rooting for you.
My overall answer: Fat chance. You have no idea what I've been through, so you have no idea to what extent I have found God to be the answer for my life. But that being the case, I will never abandon what I know to be true. I know God is real and I know it totally and securely right down to the bottom of my little heart. Ok so let's break down the statment as there are many things it prompts:
Joe, I am,as an optimist feel sure that you will, one day cast off that yoke of Xian dogma, & join us in the joyous freedom of dis-belief of ALL those man-made holy books,This is an absurd statement, especially a long time reading, it becuase he has not been reading closely. He assumes my belief is nothing more than "dogma" or something I just adopted for some stupid reason like my parents told me to. He should know I was an atheist. I pride myself on what a good fine intellectual atheist I was. I came to believe because the power of God was made real to me in my life. Here atheist like play little games, if it was an experience it must be that I was emotionalistic and delusion so it can't be trusted. If it was ideas then it must be that I'm just accepting groundless dogma and either way I can't think properly. I can think better than most atheists I meet on the net. But yea I had an experience and that proved ot me That God is real. Atheist games not impress me. That experience was more than just one experience, it was the culmination of years of searching. It really was the capstone to a year of searching that involved both ideas and experiences, and that year was the culmination of a whole youth of searching.
What's really absurd is his contrast of dry groundless dogma with "joyus freedom" of atheism. It's really depressed insanity. I have 300 scientific empirical studies (I just finished writing a whole book about them). They prove that religious people are much happier and much better off and much less depressed than are atheists. At least that is religious people who have the kinds of experiences I'm talking about. These studies show that people who have such experiences are much happier, better adjusted, better able to cope and less depressed than those who do not. My conversion (see link above) involved such experiences.
Here are some of the quotations about that, comparing happiness and depression levels in the two groups. These are from the various studies and they are listed on my pages about the studies on my site Doxa. They are also found in God argument no 4 or 5 on religious instinct.
Dr. Michale Nielson,Ph.D. Psychology and religion.
"What makes someone psychologically healthy? This was the question that guided Maslow's work. He saw too much emphasis in psychology on negative behavior and thought, and wanted to supplant it with a psychology of mental health. To this end, he developed a hierarchy of needs, ranging from lower level physiological needs, through love and belonging, to self- actualization. Self-actualized people are those who have reached their potential for self-development. Maslow claimed that mystics are more likely to be self-actualized than are other people. Mystics also are more likely to have had "peak experiences," experiences in which the person feels a sense of ecstasy and oneness with the universe. Although his hierarchy of needs sounds appealing, researchers have had difficulty finding support for his theory."
In terms of psychological correlates, well-being and happiness has been associated with mystical experiences,(Mathes, Zevon, Roter, Joerger, 1982; Hay & Morisy, 1978; Greeley, 1975; Alexander, Boyer, & Alexander, 1987) as well as self-actualization (Hood, 1977; Alexander, 1992). Regarding the latter, the developer of self-actualization believed that even one spontaneous peak or transcendental experience could promote self-actualization. Correlational research has supported this relationship. In a recent statistical meta-analysis of causal designs with Transcendental Meditation (TM) controlling for length of treatment and strength of study design, it was found that: TM enhances self-actualization on standard inventories significantly more than recent clinically devised relaxation/meditation procedures not explicitly directed toward transcendence [mystical experience] (p. 1; Alexander, 1992)
"Within the Christian body, for which repentance of sins has from the beginning been the critical religious act, healthy-mindedness has always come forward with its milder interpretation. Repentance according to such healthy-minded Christians means getting away from the sin, not groaning and writhing over its commission. The Catholic practice of confession and absolution is in one of its aspects little more than a systematic method of keeping healthy-mindedness on top. By it a man's accounts with evil are periodically squared and audited, so that he may start the clean page with no old debts inscribed. Any Catholicwill tell us how clean and fresh and free he feels after the purging operation. Martin Luther by no means belonged to the healthy-minded type in the radical sense in which we have discussed it, and be repudiated priestly absolution for sin. Yet in this matter of repentance he had some very healthy-minded ideas, due in the main to the largeness of his conception of God. -..."
J. Gartner, D.B. Allen, The Faith Factor: An Annotated Bibliography of Systematic Reviews And Clinical Research on Spiritual Subjects Vol. II, David B. Larson M.D., Natiional Institute for Health Research Dec. 1993, p. 3090
"The Reviews identified 10 areas of clinical staus in whihc research has demonstrated benefits of religious commitment: (1) Depression, (2) Suicide, (3) Delinquency, (4) Mortality, (5) Alchohol use (6) Drug use, (7) Well-being, (8) Divorce and martital satisfaction, (9) Physical Health Status, and (10) Mental health outcome studies....The authors underscored the need for additional longitudinal studies featuring health outcomes. Although there were few, such studies tended to show mental health benefit. Similarly, in the case of teh few longevity or mortality outcome studies, the benefit was in favor of those who attended chruch...at least 70% of the time, increased religious commitment was associated with improved coping and protection from problems."
[The authors conducted a literature search of over 2000 publications to glean the current state of empirical study data in areas of Spirituality and health]
3) Shrinks assume religious experience Normative.
Dr. Jorge W.F. Amaro, Ph.D., Head psychology dept. Sao Paulo
"A non spiritualized person is a sick person, even if she doesn't show any symptom described by traditional medicine. The supernatural and the sacredness result from an elaboration on the function of omnipotence by the mind and can be found both in atheist and religious people. It is an existential function in humankind and the uses each one makes of it will be the measure for one's understanding."
"Nowadays there are many who do not agree with the notion that religious behavior a priori implies a neurotic state to be decoded and eliminated by analysis (exorcism). That reductionism based on the first works by Freud is currently under review. The psychotherapist should be limited to observing the uses their clients make of the representations of the image of God in their subjective world, that is, the uses of the function of omnipotence. Among the several authors that subscribe to this position are Odilon de Mello Franco (12), .... W. R. Bion (2), one of the most notable contemporary psychoanalysts, ..."
[sources sited by Amaro BION, W. R. Aten��o e interpreta��o (Attention and interpretation). Rio de Janeiro: Imago, 1973.
MELLO FRANCO, O. de. Religious experience and psychoanalysis: from man-as-god to man-with-god. Int. J. of Psychoanalysis (1998) 79,]
Neilson on Maslow
"One outgrowth of Maslow's work is what has become known as Transpersonal Psychology, in which the focus is on the spiritual well-being of individuals, and values are advocated steadfastly. Transpersonal psychologists seek to blend Eastern religion (Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.) or Western (Christian, Jewish or Moslem) mysticism with a form of modern psychology. Frequently, the transpersonal psychologist rejects psychology's adoption of various scientific methods used in the natural sciences."
"The influence of the transpersonal movement remains small, but there is evidence that it is growing. I suspect that most psychologists would agree with Maslow that much of psychology -- including the psychology of religion -- needs an improved theoretical foundation."
4) Religion is positive factor in physical health.
"Doctrors find Power of faith hard to ignore
By Usha Lee McFarling
Knight Ridder News Service (Dec. 23, 1998) Http://www.tennessean.com/health/stories/98/trends1223.htm Quote:
"Some suspect that the benefits of faith and churchgoing largely boil down to having social support � a factor that, by itself, has been shown to improve health. But the health effects of religion can't wholly be explained by social support. If, for example, you compare people who aren't religious with people who gather regularly for more secular reasons, the religious group is healthier. In Israel, studies comparing religious with secular kibbutzim showed the religious communes were healthier."Is this all a social effect you could get from going to the bridge club? It doesn't seem that way," said Koenig, who directs Duke's Center for the Study of Religion/Spirituality and Health .Another popular explanation for the link between religion and health is sin avoidance."
"The religious might be healthier because they are less likely to smoke, drink and engage in risky sex and more likely to wear seat belts.But when studies control for those factors, say by comparing religious nonsmokers with nonreligious nonsmokers, the religious factors still stand out. Compare smokers who are religious with those who are not and the churchgoing smokers have blood pressure as low as nonsmokers. "If you're a smoker, make sure you get your butt in church," said Larson, who conducted the smoking study."
see also: he Faith Factor: An Annotated Bibliography of Systematic Reviews And Clinical Research on Spiritual Subjects Vol. II, David B. Larson M.D., Natiional Institute for Health Research Dec. 1993 For data on a many studies which support this conclusion.
5) Religion is the most powerful Factor in well being.
Poloma and Pendelton The Faith Factor: An Annotated Bibliography of Systematic Reviews And Clinical Research on Spiritual Subjects Vol. II, David B. Larson M.D., Natiional Institute for Health Research Dec. 1993, p. 3290.
"The authors found that religious satisfaction was the most powerful predicter of existential well being. The degree to which an individual felt close to God was the most important factor in terms of existential well-being. While frequency of prayer contributed to general life satisfaction and personal happiness. As a result of their study the authors concluded that it would be important to look at a combindation of religious items, including prayer, religionship with God, and other measures of religious experince to begin to adequately clearlify the associations of religious committment with general well-being."
(5) Greater happiness
Religion and Happiness
by Michael E. Nielsen, PhD
Many people expect religion to bring them happiness. Does this actually seem to be the case? Are religious people happier than nonreligious people? And if so, why might this be?
Researchers have been intrigued by such questions. Most studies have simply asked people how happy they are, although studies also may use scales that try to measure happiness more subtly than that. In general, researchers who have a large sample of people in their study tend to limit their measurement of happiness to just one or two questions, and researchers who have fewer numbers of people use several items or scales to measure happiness.br>
What do they find? In a nutshell, they find that people who are involved in religion also report greater levels of happiness than do those who are not religious. For example, one study involved over 160,000 people in Europe. Among weekly churchgoers, 85% reported being "very satisfied" with life, but this number reduced to 77% among those who never went to church (Inglehart, 1990). This kind of pattern is typical -- religious involvement is associated with modest increases in happiness
Argyle, M., and Hills, P. (2000). Religious experiences and their relations with happiness and personality. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 10, 157-172.
Inglehart, R. (1990). Culture shift in advanced industrial society. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Nielsen, M. E. (1998). An assessment of religious conflicts and their resolutions. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 37, 181-190.
In the days before research boards reviewed research proposals before the studies were conducted, Pahnke devised an experiment to induce people to have a religious experience. On a Good Friday, when they were to meditate in a chapel for 2.5 hours, twenty theology students were given either psilocybin or a placebo. The students who were given the psilocybin reported intense religious experiences, as you might imagine. Their levels of happiness also were significantly greater than the control group reported. But what is especially interesting is that these effects remained 6 months after the experiment, as the psilocybin group reported more "persistent and positive changes" in their attitudes to life than did the placebo group.
Pahnke, W. H. (1966). Drugs and mysticism. International Journal of Parapsychology, 8, 295-314.
Page 2 (the arguement on Doxa)
dis-belief of ALL those man-made holy books, all those man-made religions, all those man-made godsIf he had been reading closely he would understand that my views on inspiration of he Bible include the fact that they written by men, which in fact no Christian theologian ever denies not even the inerrentists. No one says God actually wrotet anytin but the 10 commandments. I am not an inerrantist. This is not a problem because I see that God is working thorugh human experience as described above, and in this way God works in all cultures.
We are many hundreds of former Xans of many 'different stripes'. Main line, fundamentalist, evangelical people of all ages & former strongly held beliefs. This includes former preachers, with PHDs in religion. You are welcome to post any & all thoughts-even Xian ones.Notice he does not say they have liberals. He says many stipes but he mentions "main line" and fundie. What is meant by main line? He probably means two shades of fundie. But more importantly how many of them had mystical experiences? I've seen that board before it is not great shakes. They are all suffering from cognitive dissonance and are totally unwilling to listen a reasoned discussion. The didn't strike me as having anything different than your average atheist hate group board. Their discussions read like Infidel guy or atheism.net In other words stupidity! When he says they have Ph.D.'s is he speaking of Hecotor Avelos? If so I am not impressed.
You are welcome to post any & all thoughts-even Xian ones. We all share the right to state our thoughts & all can share in responding to all posts. You may find it helpful in requiring thought, logic, common-sense & reason. Give it a shot, Joe. There is a book that I think may help you. "When God Becomes a Drug.By Bart Aikins. Please vdon't feel that this is a criticism of you. You are a victim- one of countless millions. I am rooting for you.I'm a victim of happiness. How kind that you wish to liberate me from being happy and having a good life. It is really such a burden not to be depressed as I was when I was an atheist. I really mis feeling life is meaningless and absurd. I just can't stand the idea that the creator of the universe loves me and that I feel happy any time I want to because I have meaning and purpose I really need to be helped out of that terrible fix of having a good life.
Here's my question, do you know the difference in a drug induced high and real happiness? I don't think you do. If you did you wouldn't be foolish enough to think that atheist depression counts as real happiness and religious people happiness, which cleinically is proved to have less depression is analogus to drugs.
I will go over there and challenge that guy becuase I am not afarid to argue with a guy with a Ph.D. even in a field I know nothing about, but I should have a Ph.D. the only reason I don't is because it was stolen from me as I was on the door step of receiving it. He knows nothing about my field so we are even.
Now let me tell you about my life, just a little bit. I had a 4.0 in doctoral work for five years. All professors liked me and I had a bright future as an academic and everyone who knew me just assumed I would make it. Then my parents got sick and I had to take care of them. I had other family members who were mkaing it really hard to take of them, I spent all my time doing it. I didn't give up on my doctorate I still worked on my Ph.D. while running my own little nursing home and giving my parents 24 hour round the clock care, with two other relatives works against me all the time. My father was dead for several minutes having been hospitalized for big heart attack. Then in the night he had a worse heart attack, he died in the ICU on the table as they worked on him. They got his heart going again. He was dead for maybe eleven minutes. That in itself is not a miracle, but there are some amazing things about it. What really meant a lot to the doctor was that he came back so strong (He was 89) his heart was weakened by the attack and very arrhythmical and he came back with a strong, steady, rhythmical beat like a much younger man. I did not know about any of that, I was at home having been in the hospital 48 hours already. I prayed with the Pope's midnight mass and because of that I can time it and find that it was during that time when he was actually dead. I dreamed that the Pope brought him to me and he said he would be alright. What I knew going to bed was that he had had a worse attack and they didn't expect him to live through the night. I woke expecting to find him dead but then the dream came back to me. Then I went to the hospital and the nurses were saying "Have you heard about the miracle?" I asked the doctor if he would call it that he said "I have never used that word in my practice but I use it now, this is a miracle!" That's exactly what he said.
Now this comes after 20 years of the kind of thin on a regular basis that you find in the testimony I liked to above. So I was already living the kind of life style that an experienced Charismatic lives. My live was already full of miracles and testimonies and things God has done. As I cared for my parents we had more. On occasion we called the ER guys, we called on a regular basis. As they hooked him to up to their gadgets they watched his heart attack symptoms change and go to normal as we prayed for him. They were all saying "wow this isn't suppose to happen!" I gave up everything in my life for them. There were several such incidents. I cared for them (my parents) full time round the clock for three years, and still tried to finish my Ph.D. that's when I discovered message boards and CARM as well.
Eventually of course my parents died, this time for keeps. I went back to school full time and worked as a teaching assistant. But then I went through a year long process of losing the house. It was stolen by a gang of criminals disguised as a mortgage company! So my brother and I were out on the street. We slept in our car in front of my friend's house for a bit and they let our dog run in their back yard. I could not find a job and I began to shout at God. I would drive around they city shouting at the top of my lungs "You liar!" "you lied to me!" I just openly mock "I've never seen the righteous forsaken or his seed begin for bread, well lookie here liar! I'm beging for bread, why don't you help me!??" That homeless period did not last long but we had to take a real crummy apartment. It was full of Hispanic low riders and dug dealers. A knife broke out in front of our door not long after we moved in.
I was convinced my life was over and ready to die. That last year in the old house was ridiculous. Every single day I tired to fight the motgage company. We were in the aucion, the house begin sold out from under us, for a year. Every month we were in it and it never sold. People didn't know why it didn't sell, it was a good proeprty and they said real estate agents were after it, people wanted it, but somehow when it came time for the auction somehting hapepned and it just didn't sell. I was prayihg of course. When we did finally have to leave I got resentful and that's why I would shouting and saying "you are not helping," that and not being able to find a job. A real estate guy told me that our house was being talked about real estate seminars all over this part of Texas becuase it was so amazing that we kept dodging the bullet. I wasn't really doing anything special. Twice we sold it, signed papers and all and they went back and backed out. I didn't play that but it got us out of auctions a coupe of times. we had no air conditioning, the place filthy because I didn't care any more I wasn't trying to keep it clean. It was infested with flies.
We got out and into this dump surrounded by drug dealers, I felt that my life was over. I had planned to go back to our old house, which was standing empty, this was at the height of the mortage crisis (which is not over yet) and I was going to put the car in the garage late at night and just keep the motor running. But I decided to do it in the day time because I was real upset about something. There was a cop sitting in front of the house for no apparent reason and I decided to take it as a sign. I went home and said "I am still alive, thank you God for that." I began to thank God every morning, "thank you that I am at least still alive." One day my sister came over to pray for me. She said "God please show Joe that his life is not over, you will still use him and have things for him to do." I thought, yea sure! Next day we went to a toaco place and were in life waiting order. this guy I had never seen before cam up and gave me 10$ and said "get some food." I was embarrassed but I took it becuase we only had enough to split a combo.
I noticed the guy was still jus standing there. I said "is there something else?" He was acting really embarrassed and he said "I don't this kind of thign all the time but God wants me to tell you something." I thought "O yea sure, Jesus loves you and has a plan for your life." He spit back word for word exactly what my sister said. i know what you are thinking, she prayed general positive stuff and he said general positive stuff. This was the exact next day, how many times does this happen to you? It was word for word. Not just general stuff but exactly what she payed including the reference to writing books and doing acacemic stuff who would think of that? No one would think at that point where I looked homeless that I was an academic.
I began thanking God for everything. I prayed every day and thanked for God for everything and started feeling God's presence again and began to be happy again. i begn to feel that I was re-building my life one piece at a time. I have no stopped feeling good. The only time I feel bad is when atheists are ragging on me. But that doesn't last long because when I stop posting on their boards I feel good again. Over the months we got into a wonderful house, a beautiful house which is the only one in all of North Dallas that is affordable to us given our incomes. We got this house because a little voice told me to go see about it and we went and the woman was coming out the door.
Now land lords in Dallas since 9/11 have been very peranoid and it's really hard to rent anything in Dallas. We were rejected by several apartments because my brother was arrested and our credit is bad and it said "foreclosure" on it so that in itself is an impassable barrier and it had just been a year and a half or two years since that happened. My credit sux, we don't make near enough to rent a house let alone a nice one, and this voice told me to go to this door and I did and the women was just coming out from having been observing the re modeling. She just happened to be the one Land Lady in North Dallas who understood the problems we have been facing and was caring enough to rent to us.
this kind of thing happens in my life on a regular basis. It happens beause I continue to thank Gdo for everything and pray every day and I love God. I believe what he says. I have been totally happy since living here. Why should I give any of this up? At this piont It's 30 years of knowing Jesus and that means 30 years of the kind of things I talk about happening all the time. It's a regular way of life and it works.
You know what? I really do resent atheists assuming that I'm unhappy because they were. I resent atheists assuming my beliefs arent' deep or sincere just because their's werent. I really resent atheists assuming that I'm depressed and need to be somehow liberated froma faith that was never real to them and that did not mean as much to them as it means to me.
The reasons people quite Christianity are many, but one that is most common is the legatlistic absuive group. I was raised in a group like that. I know what that is. It does feel freeing for a moment utnil you realize you have nothing to replace it with. What is a thousand times better is finding God for real and realizing that God doesnt' want you to be in the abusive grouip either. you can find good grouips that are not oike that.
It's not about grouip it's about a relationship to being.