Hopefully this will be the last time I talk about being an atheist.

Because I think that I need to move on from that.

About two weeks ago, I decided that I need to stop defining myself as ‘someone who used to be an atheist’. I felt that, in some way, it stopped me fully identifying with Christianity, and gave me an escape clause to avoid fully investing myself. Using my history, or thought patterns, or whatever, as an excuse for not necessarily embracing everything about the faith. And being known as ‘the one who used to be an atheist’ is also a handy way to keep myself a little apart from other people too and maybe it does alter the way people perceive me, and how seriously they take me as a Christian? I decided that I would separate myself from that part of my life and not use it, as I have done here mainly but also in other areas, as a way to define myself.

So obviously three days after I made that decision, I was asked to tell my conversion story at church. So essentially anyone who didn’t know I was an atheist at church now does. Ha.  I’m assuming that there is some sort of divine timing link between these two things but hey, it could be an absolute coincidence.

Here is my little talk. It’s very different writing something to be spoken as opposed to something to be read. I have put off actually writing a concise version of my story because it just seemed too hard, but being given a two day lead time and a 5 minute limit meant that I couldn’t be too particular or finicky; I just had to get something down on paper eventually. Anyway, I’m not unhappy with it; anything it lacks in nuance was made up for by laughs so lets call that a win.

Occasionally I’ll see someone that I haven’t seen for 5 or 10 years, and, during the catch up, I might mention that I’m a Christian now. After the person has laughed nervously and assumed that I’m joking, they will inevitably say ‘oh my God’ (and then they will apologise for saying oh my god) How did that happen?? And I don’t really know what to say except ‘God happened’.

The story of how I became a Christian doesn’t involve a sudden Road to Damascus revelation. And it doesn’t involve getting saved from a life of debauchery or anything interesting like that. It just involves a small quiet persistent voice that wouldn’t leave me alone or give up on me.

See, I was an atheist. And not a nice, breezy atheist who doesn’t believe in God but it completely happy for those who do, like my husband. I was an angry opinionated atheist, and I really didn’t like religion. Especially Christians. The God Delusion was my bible, and I was about as intolerant and fundamentalist as you can get. This started early; in Grade 3 my best friend and I staged a revolt and refused to attend Scripture, where a nice elderly volunteer woman got us to colour in pictures of Jesus every week. We sat outside and felt superior and enlightened. And I’m sorry to say that that is a pattern that continued for the next 30 or so years.

I can’t exactly remember how things started to change, but I do know that, over time, something began to happen. Everything in my life was going along nicely, but something certainly shifted. I started to wonder ‘what if?’  What if there is something more than what we see around us. What if we are more than just our body? Could all the beliefs that I have built my life on, been wrong? Probably not, but what if?

So I decided to buy a Bible. The only familiarity I had with the Bible was from the bits that are quoted in the Life of Brian and I didn’t even know where to find one. I finally did, in Ellison Hawker. It was pink fake snakeskin, which would not have been my first choice, but I smuggled it home in a brown paper bag.

Now I’d love to say that I opened it to some significant passage and the heavens opened and it all became clear to me, but that didn’t happen. I think I read a bit of it, was quite bored by what I found, then put it on the shelf. I remember thinking ‘Well that’s the end of that then. That’s not for me. I tried though.

But that wasn’t the end of it, of course. I know now that God spent the next few years slowly working on me, breaking down my judgements and preconceptions and stereotypes. I found myself moving from atheism to a kind of hopeful agnosticism; I didn’t know if there was a God or not but I was doing my best to find out. What I needed, in order to believe, I told God, was a divine revelation. Some kind of vision or Jesus moment that would leave me in no doubt. Then I’d become a Christian. I tried to boss God around a fair bit at that stage. It didn’t work, surprisingly enough.

5 years ago I decided to step things up a bit. I would go to church. Now those of you who have grown up in the church may find that being stressed about buying a Bible or attending a church a bit silly, but you need to understand that I knew no Christians. My family were and are all solid atheists and I didn’t have any Christian friends. I had absolutely no idea where to go. I knew that the Uniting Church had female ministers and was big on social justice and didn’t think they spoke in tongues, so here I came.

My conversion experience was long and convoluted; it went forwards and it went back ward and involved much more swearing and throwing things that is probably appropriate to talk about here. I fought God really hard. I continued to put all sorts of demands and expectations on the way things should be, and the way God should help me to believe. I made it very difficult and for a long time I refused to believe things unless I understood them and could explain them neatly with a flow chart. But God waited patiently for me; every time I packed my bible and my books away in a box and swore that this was all ridiculous and just wasn’t going to work, I’d sulkily get them out again a week later, grumbling about how I didn’t know why I was bothering, and how it was a complete waste of time, God would smile at me and said ‘but you’re doing it, aren’t you?’

It was when I realised that I needed to move beyond knowing about God, and concentrate instead on actually knowing God that things really began to change. I still don’t know how prayer works. And I still don’t understand why there is so much suffering in the world. And I still probably don’t agree with the perspectives that most well-known Christian apologists have on these topics. But while these were once reasons to keep me away from belief, I now know that not having all the answers is completely alright. It’s not a weapon to disprove faith. I’m fairly sure that I’m not going to have much clarity on those issues during this life time. I don’t really need to. What I do need to do is read the words of Jesus and love unconditionally and sit with the knowledge that mystery and unknowing are just part of the fact that, at the moment, we see through a glass, darkly.

And that’s good enough for me now.

160 thoughts on “Hopefully this will be the last time I talk about being an atheist.

  1. Ha! I hear the story at last. 🙂 And worth waiting for. You and I are chalk and cheese on some things, but who wants to be the same as everyone else? Thanks.

      • Don’t worry. You said you were finding it difficult so I let it go. THis was a reward for my patience! 🙂 Maybe think about whether I could use this, or an expanded version, or just leave it. No hassle. Thanks.

  2. I am glad that you have written down your testimony. It is true that we should leave our past behind us in order that we might be able to seek God more. Yet the fact is your past is your past and it can be used as a way to help others come to Christ. People will always try to define us by who we were, but God defines us by who we are now. As we follow Christ we will continually grow in our faith as I know you have been doing these past few years. May God bless you as you live for him.

  3. So pleased to read this. So many of my prayers answered. I m so happy now I must share this with my small group of friends with whom I shared my frustrations at not being able to get through to you the joy of being a Christian. I remember I even dreamed of visiting you in Tassie in order to sit and talk with you. And I have prayed in tongues 🙂 for you many times when I have run out of words. We will have that talk one day in eternity when I finally meet you.

    • I have always appreciated the help that you’ve given me, and I know that I’ve often been frustrating 😉 You have taught me a lot and I value your friendship ❤

  4. Greatly enjoyed reading this. My personal belief is that there is a divine reality that beckons us and invites us in. I think we humans tend to tune out or maybe taught to tune out. Doubt and questioning are good. Sometimes we almost OD on these with tragic result. Our modern culture doesn’t seem very nurturing to those who are spiritually inclined. But that “voice” has a persistent way about it.

  5. I’m very disappointed you’ve started to paint your non belief with the ‘The God Delusion was my bible’ crap, associating and pretend that, only now know that you’re a humble believer, not having all the answers is completely alright. You know very well that non believers are perfectly fine with “I don’t know” and that it is the believer who starts to supplant this honest recognition of a lack of knowledge with ‘But I think I have special insight through my religious belief’ kind of pseudo-answers that leads to replacing reasonable skepticism about Oogity Boogity causal and interventionist divine agencies with faith-based assertions divorced from reality’s role to arbitrate them.

    What you’re doing here is painting your non belief as if somehow responsible for you being angry, you being arrogant, you being smug, painting all atheist criticism of bad ideas called religion and it’s failed method of insight that promotes faith to be a virtue to be contempt for believers themselves, is all very dishonest and intentionally so. You know is at its core all of this is crap. It’s dishonest. Sure, YOU may have assumed anger and arrogance and smugness in response to faith-based claims and testimonies of belief in supernatural metaphysics, but attributing that to directed and organized non belief itself is the Big Lie. And starting any ‘new’ relationships on such dishonesty is hardly an auspicious beginning to your new found humbleness through God’s personal interest in you (as if to say, Oh, it wasn’t ME but my atheism directed by Dawkins through his secular bible who was responsible for all those negative attributes and attitudes I once had). That’s crap. It also seems you were exposed to some form of Christian indoctrination it at a rather early age in spite of being surrounded by “solid atheists with no Christian friends”). Funny, that. And why not Islam or Zoroastrianism in your opinion? Strange how your creeping religious belief should just so happen to align with the most common religion around you. Coincidence it just happens to be the right one (use your mouse to scroll in and out)?

    This kind of testimony is feeding into the typical anti-atheist PRATT that maligning your previous non believing self somehow enhances your street cred as a ‘converted’ believer. Well aren’t you the special one! The problem with that is neither atheism nor religious belief are responsible here: you are the one doing the painting and you are the one who is being dishonest trying to make either responsible. And pretending you have personal knowledge of God whispering in your not-so-metaphorical ear (a small quiet persistent voice that wouldn’t leave me alone or give up on me) only reduces your intellectual integrity and honesty.

    So please, stop using atheism as your canvas to paint your negative stereotypes and deceits and start looking honestly at your own convoluted feelings and psychological needs over time as the source of your conversion. That way you may actually learn something about yourself.

    • Tildeb, I want to apologise for deleting your comment when I first read it. I felt (and feel) that is was unfairly rude and viscious. However, if you feel strongly enough to say these things then I shall allow you the platform. You and I have had several cordial emails and I would like us, in general, to remain as ‘people on the internet who can engage in civil dialogue’. If it is any excuse, the night that I sent it to trash was one when Jaspar had been in a lot of pain and we were wondering if we were going to have to make a hospital trip or not. You will allow me this small lapse of judgement, I trust.

      • It’s not the deleting and further banning that bothered me; sad to say, that’s typical. My issue is that It was yet another ‘testimonial’ that is full of deceit and yet completely welcomed by other readers as if true while a solitary voice of criticism deleted. That none of the welcoming committee of believers challenged you and the criticized this vilification of atheism you so flippantly wrote about is what bothered me because, as you well know, it’s simply not true. That’s why I said that this kind of encouraged ‘witnessing’ of a conversion ‘testimonial’ ripe with deceit is not an auspicious start to your conversion because it’s based on a lie you are using to describe a ‘before’ that simply is not the case. You’ve put aside what’s true and that should bother you far more than enjoying any benefits accrued from doing so. You’re better than that. And your better than that because you know perfectly well that it literally bears false witness against yourself as well as other non believers. Yet everyone else eager to have you join their believing ranks seems willing to swallow this deceit and vilification wholesale, to embrace the false witnessing as if were okay because its pious, and happily replace what is true with this kind of nonsense.

        It is your writing about atheism and the false claims you make about your supposed non belief that has prompted me to challenge and criticize you for this falsehood because it smears those of us who are honest non believers, who can quite easily admit to not knowing, who love and live and work with, who are family members of Christians, but who still and for very good reasons maintain a reasonable skepticism towards the explanatory claims of religions that invoke supernatural forces and agencies for which reality offers us no evidence. That skepticism is the quiet voice that seems to be disparaged and misrepresented all the time. And that’s why what you’ve written here needs challenging and exposure.

        The choice to believe as you say you now do is your own, and for your own reasons, and I’m fine with that because I think you have every right to believe what you want. But why so many convertees feel this need to make up stories and vilify non belief must be challenged and criticized and exposed for the lies (and the motivation behind this disreputable practice) they are. The banning is so typical that it hardly raises an eyebrow but the deafening silence by welcoming believers to this kind of garbage testimonial must be addressed honestly and that’s why not able to do so here is why I posted on my own site. Sure, you can get rid of the legitimate criticism here for whatever other rationalizations you want, but you can’t silence what’s true by moderating only to your own site. I think it’s high time more convertees who intentionally vilify and misrepresent their previous non belief and then try to avoid legitimate critism from promoting a fiction at the expense of what’s true understand that doing so will receive attention from non believers and gain wider exposure for the deplorable practice it is and have to accept the negative light in which they have placed themselves by this intentional misrepresentation. That’s what your banning has provoked. I hope other faitheists take note. You can’t smear non believers and then think this will have no further consequences.

        Since my own posting, the criticism I have raised has been spread by many others as an example of the inherent dishonesty convertees use in their testimonials… testimonials that are then picked up and spread by other believers as if true, as if indicative of insight into the angry and strident and Christian-hating character of those of us who do not believe, as if evidence of some atheist organizing feature to which recent convertees once belonged but have since escaped. None of this is true, and this needs to be said, yet all of this vilification of non belief is absolutely typical PRATT that is then denied any means to be properly challenged where it originates. You’re no different. This is why I wrote my own post and why others are picking it up and exposing what’s going on. You’re simply the latest example.

        So the banning and any feelings I may have from being treated so poorly as a long time reader and commentator on your blog is not the point. To be clear, the false vilification is by no means simply a ‘small lapse in judgement’; it is typical Christian ‘witnessing’ in action, typical vilification based on what is not true, typical acceptance by a non critical faitheist community to believe the worst about non believers, typical avoidance tactics of taking responsibility for one’s part in promoting these lies, typical rationalizations used to excuse the deceit, and typical maligning of the character and motivations of non believers.

        You may want to stop talking about atheism but your false ‘testimonial’ is not a very smart way to go about it because we’re not going to stop talking about it as long as people try to use falsehoods to define non believers.

        • “So the banning and any feelings I may have from being treated so poorly as a long time reader and commentator on your blog is not the point”

          Bullshit. I asserted a boundry and your fragile ego couldnt cope.

          From your post;

          ‘The offending author will receive a pingback from this site and so will know that this is what will happen when you choose to stop allowing me to comment truthfully on your site: I will introduce your deceit and dishonesty to a wider audience…Put another way, one should reap what one sows.’

          You sound like I rejected your date to the prom. Get over yourself and your high and mighty motives, Tiildeb. Youre just an angry internet keyboard warrior who lost a platform.

          • Because she is claiming that she was a Dawkins-following fundamentalist atheist, that it was her atheism that made her such an unpleasant Christian-hating person. That’s the Big Lie.

            • What? First., you said there is no evidence that I was an angry atheist. At first, this was the BIG LIE. I’ve demonstrated that you were wrong about this with many links to posts as much as 4 years aho. You havent addressed your mistake, btw.

              Secondly, I have never, as far as I know, said that I was an atheist THEREFORE I hated christians. Who knows which came first? I thought christians were deluded and stupid AND I was an atheist. If you can show me an example of saying directly that being an athiest turned me in to an angry person, then please do. I’d be interested if a simple mistake in my wording has been the thing that set you off this time. An actual example of this though, not an inference made by you, not a projection and not an assumption.

              Which came first? I’ve never out that much importance on ot. But clearly you do, as I’ve obviously ratled your cage to an extreme degree.

              Are you still upset about the fact that I lied about finding a bible? Not sure if youre reading the comments, but ‘my story’ has been backed up by a new commenter here. An atheist, but one who doesnt assume the worst all the time.

            • It seems to me that you answered a slightly different question than the one I asked. You answered: What did she lie about? I asked: How do you know she is lying?

              Nowhere do I see her claim it was specifically her atheism that caused her to be an unpleasant Christian-hating person and she more or less restated that below. One thing she did claim was that she “didn’t like religion. Especially Christians.” She could mean “the religion of Christianity” rather than specifically “Christian” individuals (Principle of Charity and all that). So basically she said, she is an atheist who didn’t like religion. Do you particularly like religion? Do you particularly like Christianity?

              Now it seems to me then that the part that you’re particularly bothered by is the “angry opinionated…intolerant and fundamentalist” part of her statement. Why?

  6. I think prayer is meant to express thankfulness, it’s like a form of meditation geared toward putting one into a positive mindset or giving pause to allow for understanding to take place – but put into the context of there being some higher power, even though it can work for anyone of any belief.

    Your story sounds fairly common, similar to some that I’ve read of Christians moving away from their belief. When one has unfounded hatred toward something, as the hatred subsides, a curiosity in understanding arises. I had not realized you had such an anti-Christian past, so I have been confused as to why you were interested in taking up the faith, but now it makes a lot more sense.

    I explored my curiosity about Christianity a few years back, which was driven by the intimidation of ‘what if there is something to the belief’ as well as wondering why so many Christians I had encountered were so self-centred. Upon digging deep into it over a solid 6+ months, I came out at ease now knowing that while there are a lot of great concepts and ideas that have been gathered in the Bible, those concepts can be adapted to other worldviews.

    On the other hand, if the Christian version of God exists and the Bible is His Word, I would think He would have done a much better job of closing up plot holes and smoothing out inconsistencies and absurdities in the narrative.

  7. This is a really lovely and heartfelt sharing of experience. It has been really interesting and inspiring to follow your journey from rampant atheist to questioning agnostic and now peaceful yet still incredibly complex Eva Christian.

    I do take issue with one thing: “where a nice elderly volunteer woman got us to colour in pictures of Jesus every week”.
    SHE WASN’T NICE AT ALL!

    She was middle aged and scruffy and she gave all the kids jellybeans because of Jesus, but she didn’t give any to us! Surely a nice Christian lady would give a jelly bean to the two little hippy atheists sitting outside the classroom, gazing in at the kids making slurpy noises with cheeks bulging. I swear she used to look over at us pointedly. It was like “See – God only loves the kids who stay in the room”.

    When you become a chaplain promise me that you’ll give ALL the people jelly beans.

    • Well she probably assumed that hippy atheist kids wouldnt want non- vegetarian jelly beans, so therefore was being nice and respectful of our beliefs. See, glass half full, baby…

    • Rampant atheist? Rampant! Seriously? What can this even mean? Well, it certainly contains a negative connotation.

      OED rampant: (Especially of something unwelcome) flourishing or spreading unchecked

      Oh yes, so many of us non believers go forth unchecked and spread our unwelcome non belief by knocking on doors to spread the Good News!, open buildings in every neighbourhood, advertise our non believing services, gather weekly among our brethren and listen to some Dear Leader educated in non belief as an academic discipline tell us how to live as the right kind of non believer….

      I mean, come on.

      Now, of course I will be accused of being rude here, of using a tone that is not pleasant and friendly. Ya think?

      How many readers will understand that by intentionally selecting and then using the term ‘rampant’, Friend Arielle has already done what so many here are ready to vilify me for doing in response. For her? Not a peep of condemnation because it’s really just fine and dandy to speak about non believers this way, isn’t it?

      And that’s my point. If I don’t step up and criticize ‘friendly’ people like Arielle for doing this kind of nonsense, this kind of intentional deceit, this kind of vilification, then no one will because no one here even seems to think this is a problem.

      It is, folks., And it’s gotta stop.

      It is very difficult to be friendly and respectful towards those who are all too willing to 1) assign by group association negative characteristics (this is the definition of bigotry, BTW) , 2) willing to go along with others who do this, and 3) defend those who do this from legitimate criticism by claiming those directly discriminated against are rude for raising the issue.

      • Just to let you know tildeb, I’m an atheist. I’m not criticising atheists. I’m using the word ‘rampant’ in a fun way. That’s all.

        I’ve been friends with Eva since we were seven years old so I can tell you with all sincerity that she is the most interesting, honest, intelligent and fun person. She has explored faith upside down and inside out and with enormous respect and curiosity for many many many years. It’s not an overnight thing, becoming a Christian.

        • She has explored faith upside down and inside out and with enormous respect and curiosity for many many many years.

          Don’t you think this is an exaggeration?

        • So why on earth is she describing herself as “an angry opinionated atheist”, someone who “really didn’t like religion. Especially Christians.” Is it really the case that “The God Delusion was my bible, and I was about as intolerant and fundamentalist as you can get.”?

          Do you think any of this is actually true? If so, then it doesn’t gel with your description here whatsoever, does it? In all of her writings on this site, she has never indicated any of this, ever.

          So which is it?

          Well, I think that testimonials like this always in my experience include this vilification of atheism. Always. And I think it’s simply not true. I think it is done to earn ‘street cred’ among the supportive faith community who just go along like sheep and accept this false accounting. So too, does it appear, her friends. And when an ‘atheist’ friend goes along with it and suggests no one should be disrespectful towards her and question it, then I think you are part of this problem that casts atheism itself as a negative feature. So why would an atheist go along with this? It’s not okay. And it’s disrespectful towards all those who do not believe and for very good reasons in claimed agencies of Oogity Boogity! intervening in human affairs by means of Poof!ism.

          You may think including the descriptor ‘rampant atheist’ as a bit of fun, but you seem oblivious to the fact that it helps promote negative stereotyping of others, including yourself. There’s no ‘rampant’ about it. It;’s the same non belief you assume towards all kinds of claims about reality that have no supporting evidence and so should be relegated to being dismissively treated, not to hold those who dismiss really bad ideas with this flippant derogatory term.

          • ‘So why on earth is she describing herself as “an angry opinionated atheist”, someone who “really didn’t like religion. Especially Christians.” Is it really the case that “The God Delusion was my bible, and I was about as intolerant and fundamentalist as you can get.”?

            Do you think any of this is actually true? If so, then it doesn’t gel with your description here whatsoever, does it? In all of her writings on this site, she has never indicated any of this, ever’

            So the main thrust behind the whole ‘she is a liar’ fury, which has now spawned two admittedly amusing comment sections ( she wouldnt have watched the Life of Brian at 8 therefore she lies!! Why didnt she use a bible app in 2000???) is that I’ve never mentioned that I was an angry atheist, is it?

            Here is just one post. Im sure there are more and Ill have a look when I get home to my laptop.

            https://theaspirationalagnostic.com/2013/08/15/and-behold-she-was-irritated-and-an-atheist

            This entire post, from 2013, discussed that I was a judgemental atheist, but not all are like that.

            Maybe you need to tweak your ability to use the search function.

            So, whats the next thing I’ve lied about? Or maybe you are the one who needs to take a good hard look at yourself? Does the great Tildeb apologise? It doesnt really matter at this stage though, does it? Because you have claimed that Im dishonest, others have run with it and its done.

            Id think even you should be a bit embarrassed about all this.

          • Here we go; from 2011
            “I’ve always resented the assumption that people of faith have a more finely tuned moral compass than atheists. Even though I don’t consider myself to be card carrying, going to meetings, die-hard atheist anymore, I was once a particularly passionate member of that camp and I still find myself getting a bit offended on their behalf (which would probably irritate them and make them feel patronised, now I think of it).”

            https://theaspirationalagnostic.com/2011/09/24/will-becoming-a-christian-make-me-a-better-person/

        • If you have been a regular reader at all, you would know that Im not playing this game. If other commentors choose to engage then go for it, but I’m not your girl. As long as comments are respectful ( and arguing can be respectful) I will allow them here. If they become superior, antagonistic, paternalistic, or if someone if just trying to be a general arsehole, they they will not be welcome.
          I deleted my first ever comment this week. I’ve never done it before, and it was from someone who has put a huge amount of time commenting here ( over 35,000 words) but when I am personally attacked and disrespected then it stops. Ha, sorry, you didnt excpect an essay and Im not necessarily suggesting that that is where your comments are heading, but I’m just letting you know that Im not getting into a pissing contest. Im waiting for my son to go into surgery at the moment so I may be overexplaining because of nerves, admittedly…

          • Christianity, and all religion for that matter, fascinates me.
            So when you used the word ”Perhaps” regarding Yahweh I must admit I was rather surprised.

            I am not a regular reader, as you have probably deduced.

            So when I asked about the god you revere I am genuinely interested to understand how you square this belief away while seeming to have a vague/ambiguous notion about Yahweh?

            Why you regard this as a ”pissing contest” I have no idea.

            I wish your son everything of the best.

        • I would guess many of us are sort of delusional about some things.
          It only becomes an issue if said delusion interferes with ones daily life – or that delusion is overtly or tacitly imposed on others – such as children. That winds me up something rotten, especially with religion.
          And from a religious perspective there are a great many examples we could probably do without .On the Christian bench, Ken Ham and his rather silly cohorts spring to mind. ISIS is another perfect example of religious lunacy.

          And if you pop over to my blog you will encounter some halfwit called Colorstorm who really needs a little extra padding in his room..

          That said, I really am interested in your take on Yahweh if you believe ”names” are not important.

          How’s your kid after his op. All right?

          • Theres a post on the blog somewhere titled something like ‘dont tell my son hes going to hell’ where you and I probably agree on the indoctrination of children. And absolutely, fundamental fantasists are just appauling, which is why Im annoyed that Im being referred to as a ‘fundie’ in a certain comment section at the moment. A group of people deliberately misrepresenting my words to bond as a group or whatever. Sorry you have a persistant and exasperating contributer to your blog. I think I know how you feel…
            I think that there is one God. I think all religions point to that one God. That is something that I came to through what I think is evidence and logical deduction ( although that isnt something that I blog about, because Im not keen on debating the meaning of evidence blah blah blah). The step to that God being connected to Jesus? That’s is more of a leap of faith. Do I think its the ultimate answer and everyone else is wrong? Not really. See, I’m an annoying Christian because I guess the only way I can be attacked is because Im wishy washy and uncommitted, lol.
            Thanks for asking about my son; Im sitting next to his hospital bed while he comes out of the anasthesia, which he never does that well. He just asked if he and I are the only humans left on earth. And I’m pretty sure noones ever told him about the Rapture 😉

            • Glad to hear your kid’s okay.

              If you believe there is only one god – fair enough – and the leap from this to being Jesus ( your god made flesh, yes?) is based on faith, then the god we are dealing with is only found in the Old Testament.

              Now this is where it gets sort of technical.
              Archaeologists and genuine Old Testament scholars – not giant arse hats like William Lane Craig, Licona Geisler etc – will tell you straight off the bat, the Pentateuch is nothing but Historical Fiction, and the archaeological evidence they have dug up confirms this.
              So how do you marry the fiction of the Old Testament god, Yahweh, with the claimed divinity of the New Testament character, Jesus of Nazareth? ( and being his supposed offspring via a virgin birth?)
              How do you sort this out in your mind without ”conning” yourself?

              • I’m sure that you know this, but theres quite a rich spectrum of belief along the christianity continuum these days. I dont believe everything that traditional doctrine would proclaim, but neither, I would suggest, do many other christians. What I have found is a way of viewing the world, and a compass, that resonates deeply with me, and I believe it makes me a better person. If thats a crutch, or if its pathetic that I need a book to tell me how to behave (etc etc, insert usual criticism) then so be it, im ok with that.
                I don’t know, maybe Im just more relaxed about things than many other people on the internet. I dont know why my word view ( which I’m not even passing on very effectively to my own kids I might add, because one is pretty sure he’s already an atheist) bothers people. God, there are so many other real arseholes out there (cough Ken Ham). I don’t even argue very well, or debate. I should probably just post cat memes. Or pictures of David Tennant.

                Im also not set on the whole virgin birth. This damn obsession with virginity. Ugh.

                Also, apologies, my ipad doesnt autocorrect apparently.

                • Sorry if i sound pedantic,, but this still does not address the question of the fictional Pentateuch.
                  Maybe if am more direct?
                  How can you accept the divinity and title of Creator bestowed upon the character, Jesus of Nazareth when the god, Yahweh is fiction?

              • I realise that you dont understand or embrace where I’ve come to, but I think that’s ok, isn’t it? It’s perfectly alright for you to not ‘get’ me or my life. I’m not going to explain myself, not because you have been rude ( you havent) or anything like that, but I genuinely dont think what I say will help your understanding. When I was an atheist, and thought all christians were delusional fantasists, I just couldnt conceptualise how someone could come to faith. Which may be the position youre in? Im awful at apologetics or explanation of my beliefs anyway, and for the record have never claimed to be any good at it.

                • In that case, you have to live with it. Long as you don’t try to ”preach it”, especially to your kids, then, such a choice is yours and yours alone.

                  I am just baffled how anyone could convince themself there is even a grain of truth amongst what is patently nothing but fiction and lies.

                  Truly, what on earth could motivate anyone to completely jettison reason and simple common sense to embrace such vile, superstitious nonsense is beyond me.

                • Oh, and once again you avoided answering my simple straightforward question concerning Yahweh.
                  This suggests you are simply ignorant of the Old Testament and are afraid to actually investigate or address my question, or you are fully aware of the falsity of your position and are being somewhat disingenuous.

  8. I think any questioning in response to this particular post is disrespectful because Eva is sharing her experience, not suggesting points for debate. She is very generously sharing her very personal journey and for this reason alone there is no invitation for haggling.

    Everyone have a jelly bean.

      • Not at all. But spewing words such as “crap”, “dishonest”, “deceits” is neither asking for clarification nor disagreeing with the blogger. Regardless of tildeb’s beliefs, the comments are just plain rude. Please go back and reacquaint yourself with tildeb’s vitriol and ask yourself where the basic respect of one human being for another has gone.

        • To say someone is being dishonest is not being rude. Anyone with access to the internet cannot know where to get a bible. There is even an app for it!
          I have interacted with tildeb for long now.

          • You seem to be under the impression that this happened in the last year or two? This was well before apps or iphones and I dont think I even had internet at home. Sorry you misunderstood.

              • This was about 16 years ago. Before the internet was in every home here in Tasmania. You are really reaching here. Do you think that everything happened after the internet became available? While Im no fan of your friend Tildeb, his abilty to form a coherent argment and actually hold his own puts you to shame. You should learn from him a bit longer before you try to argue your ill formed points on other peoples blogs.

                • 16 years ago we had internet in my neck of the woods. I didn’t realize you come from a more backward place.
                  What points are ill- formed. I am always willing and ready to correct them. Just be kind enough as to point me to them.

              • Maka, I dont think this is relevant, but I’ll have to revise when I got home internet as I misled you. It was on an ipad, which I bought soon after they came out in about 2006. We couldnt get a dialup signal at our house for quite a while, so the way an ipad is connected (and I have no idea about the intricate details of ipads) is a different variety if connection? So it was closer ( althought I cant pinpoint it exactly) to 10 years than 16 that I got the internet and also went Bible searching. But given I tried to correct one of my children when he said that 1996 was 20 years ago recently ( I could have sworn it was only 10!) my sense of time may not be that great, lol. But, as Douglas Adams says, ‘time is an illusion’.

                • I find discussions on time very interesting.
                  Eva, I think, if you have seen my comments on Barry’s blog you will have noticed I have given you the benefit of doubt.

              • Absolutely, and I’m pleased to see that you have found my explanations clear, lol . However the post where you state clearly that I am a liar and that I’ve made it all up as I go along stands, so we may not be able to be life long friends, I’m afraid 😉

  9. A couple of follow-up questions given the mass criticism you’re receiving.

    1) How come you didn’t know where to obtain a Bible? (such as a bookstore)?

    2) Did you mean to claim ALL atheists are intolerant and angry towards believers? Or is that just how you would describe yourself when you were a nonbeliever?

    • Hmmm, these questions seem innocuous and innocent so I’ll have a go, but I understand Ive only myself to blame if I get an ATHEIST TRAITOR CHRISTIAN SPAWN comment down the track 😉

      As for not knowing where to get a bible, I thought that there might be dedicated bible shops, but couldnt find any in my town. And this was before online shopping ( nothing makes you feel old like a bunch of people saying ‘she is lying because she could read a bible on an app, so therefore, fabricated story’. There was a lot of life lived before the internet, people). And I went to one bookstore but was told they didnt stock them. I don’t know, maybe I live in an atheist paradise or something?

      And I deliberately metioned ‘nice reasonable atheists like my husband ( and best friend and sister and father and mother) so as to not look like I was demonising all atheists. Looks like that nuance got lost somewhere along the line, hey?

      • No worries. I try not to judge people on whether they are an atheist or a Christian. My only intention was to allow you to clarify the ideas you wanted to express further and see how well they matched up with everyone’s criticisms.

        I picked up on the nuances, which is why I asked you the questions.

  10. One more question actually.

    How do you reconcile that “in Grade 3 my best friend and I staged a revolt and refused to attend Scripture, where a nice elderly volunteer woman got us to colour in pictures of Jesus every week” and that you “knew no Christians. My family were and are all solid atheists and I didn’t have any Christian friends.” If your family were atheists, why did they ask you to attend Scripture in the first place?

    • Well scriptue was just a normal weekly thing that happened at school. My parents may well not even have known it occurred. I dont think that it would have been questioned.

        • Hi consoledreader, I presume you come from the US? Australia is very different to the US in many ways. It is a much more secular society overall. True Parliament is still opened with a token prayer, and scripture is still available in schools, but they are more leftover traditions than an indication of religiosity. I’ll give you a few examples:

          1. About 70% of Aussies believe in God, about half identify with christianity, but only about 8% attend church regularly, with a few more attending sporadically.

          2. Few people get too excited about others believing differently. I was often the only christian in my office when I was working, people accepted and respected that, I accepted and respected them (they would generally include a few agnostics, the occasional atheist and a bunch of don’t cares), and everyone got on fine.

          3. Our last four Prime Ministers have identified as two christians (one Catholic, one Protestant), a fairly non-specific agnostic I think (our current PM) and an atheist. The important thing to note is that few people cared very much about their personal beliefs, only about their policies and personalities, or lack thereof. I voted for the atheist and one of the christians, against the other christian, and am supportive of the agnostic (not sure if I’ll vote for him or not).

          4. When I was a boy (I am older than Eva), I went to school scripture, it was more or less part of the school program. My wife, whose parents were one atheist and one agnostic, excluded her from scripture, and she sat out in the bus shelter with a Jew, the only two in the school who didn’t attend, until she opted to go herself. But now scripture is opt-in in our state, and doesn’t exist in some states I think, but that is fairly recent.

          So Eva’s experience wasn’t the same as everyone’s, but wasn’t all that unusual either, for that time.

        • The situation in Aotearoa New Zealand was/is similar to that in Australia, but perhaps slightly more secular. Public schools cannot include “scripture” as part of the curriculum as education state schooling is strictly secular. However many schools did include “religious studies”, which was more than likely to concentrate on Christianity than other religions.

          Unless you try to push your beliefs on others, no-one is interested in your beliefs or lack of them.

          • Thanks Barry. There is certainly no religious instruction in schools that I know of in Tasmania now. In fact there was a lady handing out religious pamplets at my kids school fair a few years ago and that made me very uncomfortable, lol. The thought of christinaity in a public school is very foreign these days.

          • Barry, I’ve just read the post on your blog and I think it accurately sums up the whole production! I’m happy that you’ve been able to understand the nuances of my post ( poetic license and such). But of course, the literalists are floundering.

            • Neither floundering nor foundering here, Eva. You’ve lied about your fundamentalist and intolerant atheism I presume to promote yourself in the eyes of those too credulous to question this claim’s utter lack of truth value and now attempt to feel like you’re the injured party.

  11. Hi Eva

    I am always interested to read a person’s journey and especially the reasons for what a person believes.

    I seem to have made the journey in the opposite direction. After many years involvement with Christianity, I concluded, reluctantly, that the Bible was a human, not a divine book. It was a deeper study of the Bible, of theology and Christian history that led me in this direction.

    I wished it was true (except for the Hell part) but I don’t believe it is. Once I was prepared to consider the possibility that the Bible was a human, not a divine book, then it all started to make a lot more sense to me.

    It is interesting that we can look at the same material and reach different conclusions.

      • Eva, I do feel sorry for all the probing questions and even acquisitions that have been coming your way.

        I suppose you could take it as a compliment. Our friend tildeb considers you to be too nice a person to have ever been an ‘angry atheist’.

        I certainly would not enjoy being at the other end of a tildeb cross examination, he is a bit like a pitbull who won’t let go.

        As a fellow Australian, indeed fellow Tasmanian, and even I might guess fellow Hobartian. I can vouch for what you say about how it is quite possible to live in this society and pretty much be oblivious to religion. I would also add that Bibles are not thick on the ground here either. There is only one specialist Christian bookstore in the Capital city. Finding a Bible in a secular bookstore, whilst possible is not straightforward.

        I hope you can make Christianity work for you. In the end it did not work for me.

        • I have to admit some excitement at finding a neighbour (I’m in Kingston). I grew up in the bush outside of Deloraine in the exciting ‘No Dams’ days.

          I had no idea that Koorong ( the christian bookshop) existed until one day I said to a friend at church ‘Shirley, that’s a great Bible commentary. I wish I could find one like that’, and she said ‘Um, just go to Koorong’. I had no idea what or where it was. Well its quite hidden in that little side street, to be fair…

          Now lets see how many ways that little snippet could be misconstrued, shall we? (Perhaps ‘There was noone called Shirley at the church I once visted. There fore you are lying!’).

          Anyway, nice to mee you and thank you for supporting my ‘claims’ 😉 Christianity seems to be my ‘place’ so far, but who knows where life will lead?

          • I know the Koorong shop well. I still get their brochures and emails. I previously found the use of a study Bible helpful as it would provide an explanation for challenging texts. Of all the many books I read on Christianity one that I would recommend to someone trying to find their way in the faith is ‘Know the Truth’ by Bruce Milne.
            https://www.koorong.com/search/product/know-the-truth-3rd-edition-2009-bruce-milne/9781844743957.jhtml

            It might sound odd, me a person who no longer believes recommending a book about Christianity. Don’t worry there are no hidden tricks here, I undertook quite a bit of study of Christianity and I thought Milne’s book was among the best for a straightforward accessible and reliable introduction.

            I hail from the eastern shore of Hobart. But I have been keeping a low profile because I still don’t know how to tell my former Church friends that I no longer believe and I don’t really want to damage their faith as I know what a painful road to travel is the loss of faith.

            • Thanks for rhat Peter, I’ll check it out.
              I teach at ‘the big school’ on your side of the river, so we may have passed each other in some occassions.
              Leaving faith must be hard. It’s considerate that you don’t want to, maybe, challenge your friends world view. One of my boys said to me this morning ‘Im not sure if I’ll be a christian like you, Mum’. A much easier decision to make at aged 12 than later in life, i’d think 😊

  12. Hi-
    Good for you for the defense of the faith. If I can only encourage you to s l o w l y consider the weight of others opinions about people who are bent on making their opinions yours. Example? Sure.

    The Lord Himself asked: Did you arrive at this perception regarding me, or did you get this impression from someone else?

    The ‘padded room’ idea may appear comical, but be sure to draw your own conclusions. ‘the entrance of thy word bringeth light.’ Personally, I appreciate the word And light, as well as defending light in a dark world.

    A good man said some time ago that truth cannot live without warfare in the midst of a world away from God. Ain’t that the truth.

    But to be called deranged by people who say Moses never lived, Abraham was a myth, Saul/Paul was mentally cripple is a rare compliment.

    Good stuff by you by the way, and all the best.

      • Sure thing. But doncha love it when you are challenged to prove the gold in your pocket, as if it either does not exist, or that your word is no good.

        But one of my favs is the example where the blind man who was given sight was harassed by the intellectual ones who doubted his case, then fetched his parents to question them, hoping they were liars.

        Ha, their response? Our son is old enough to answer for himself, ask him how he received sight being he was born blind.

        Love that. Btw, if what you have is not valuable, others would not want to take it from you.

  13. Hi, Eva. It’s been a while since I’ve commented here but I’ve been reading along off and on. I know you’re sharing your personal experience so I have a couple of questions, just as points of clarity.

    Are you, in your testimony, saying that atheism makes people angry and fundamentalist? Or is that just how you expressed your atheism(I’ve been reading for a while, now and have never gotten that from your writing or comments)? A bit sarcastic, perhaps, but that’s my language so it never came across to me as angry. Personally, I’ve never read The God Delusion. I don’t have an atheist bible. Are you suggesting that you treated your atheism as a religion?

    And are you also saying that you had never examined religion(s), but you didn’t like them? Or did you just not like the followers of religion(s)? If you’d never examined Christianity would you say that your atheism was well reasoned? Or a default position because it’s all you’d known?

    • Hi Ruth,

      Forgive me if I dont fully answer your question. Im a bit tired by it all. Tildeb has invented a story and now I have to clean up after the incompetant ramblings of someone who, I thought, actually knows how to do research.
      Heres a post that states my previous position. Its from 2013. It shows that I’ve not invented a story- or If I did I started a while ago, lol.
      https://theaspirationalagnostic.com/2013/08/15/and-behold-she-was-irritated-and-an-atheist/

      This isnt going to undo all the maliciousness that Tildbe has caused on other sites of course, but it would be good if my readers know the truth.

      This has not made several of the atheists who comment here look very good. Ironic really. But no, I dont think that atheism makes people angry as such. As I said in my story ( a lot of people seem to be missing this bit; so much so that I went back and checked that I’d actually included it!’

      “And not a nice, breezy atheist who doesn’t believe in God but it completely happy for those who do, like my husband”
      Or my sister, or my cousin, or my best friend, or…well you get the message. I am surrounded my lovely atheists. I used to be an atheist who believed that all christians are idiots and needed to argue with them. Its not something Im proud of.
      But in short, no. I dont think that all atheists are angry and argumentative. I only ever mix with that sort on the internet, now days.

      • You still don’t get it.

        I’m not the one claiming to use the God Delusion as a bible, that it in any way, shape,or fashion promotes intolerance against believers. It doesn’t. That’s standard PRATT from those who’ve either never comprehended its written version or are intentionally lying about it. This PRATT is used by those who for various reasons wish to smear atheism and the character of those who happen to hold Dawkins in rather high esteem for his work exposing the root problem – a broken method – upon which the pillars of religious thinking rest.

        I’m not the one claiming to know no Christians when I live in a culture dominated by them or that I disliked all Christians when very often I have no clue or even interest if someone is or is not a Christian.

        I’m not the one claiming to not know how to obtain a bible in such a literate culture nor suggest that I would have to ‘smuggle’ one home once purchased because of the disapproval of other atheists, it is presumed. Nasty and intolerant bunch those atheists… except the nice ones like Hubby, of course. (Of course, I can’t be ______ because one of my best friends is ________.) Standard PRATT again.

        I’m not the one claiming that atheism can be fundamentalist, that atheism is in any way naturally intolerant. Both are standard PRATTs.

        I’m not the one claiming to have correctly identified a little voice in my head as the voice of some god.

        You are.

        You are making all of these claims in the form not of personal opinion that may or may not be the case but as part of witnessed testimonial about becoming Christian. This format sets out to link the former self with the latter (usually born-again) and better 2.0 version, the journey from in this case as you have selected from non belief to belief, a progression of supposed events based on what’s true, what really happened, a testimony to your journey through life to become a believer. And it’s a load of southern product from a north facing bovine.

        You’ve decided to become a believer in some vague version of Christianity. That’s fine. I think it’s delusional, but hey.. you have every right Enjoy it.

        What I take issue with is your associating negative crap about atheism – crap because it isn’t true about atheism but all about you CLAIMING it is derived from your non belief rather than what it IS from: YOU! – and then testifying that your unpleasant characteristics exhibited when you had no Christian belief (and even that is highly doubtful from the obvious privileging you grant to the state of being a believer) was a product of atheism. That, as I’ve pointed out previously, is the Big Lie. That is bearing false witness when you’ve been challenged on it by me and refuse to retract this deceit. Again, that’s an action you’ve decided to undertake and you’re trying to avoid its criticism by first deleting it and secondly by spending effort questioning my motives. Because I am an atheist, you are in effect smearing me and my character by what you are saying about atheism. And no one else in your readership other than me, it seems, has the intestinal fortitude and intellectual honesty to hold you accountable for this execrable yet typical testimonial.

        • Why do I get the feeling that you’re just desperate to be asked what PRATT is?

          Your claims were wrong. Deal with it instead of moving the goal posts. ‘I’ dont get it? You’re quite the victim blamer aren’t you?

          You have that tendency to over explain to a oddly pedantic degree ( seriously, 40,000 words??) a latent but simmering anger that is very obvious to all who read you, the belief that you are some sort of avenging hero setting to world to rights and a curious inability to understand the ideas of other people.

          Basically, you’re a very very angry man.

          It’s immensely dull to those of us who have forced to eye roll over the walls of text that you insist on regurgitating over and over again. When it comes down to it, you’re not an atheist putting the world to rights, you’re not saving the internet and you’re not educating people. You’re a troll with a thesaurus who dresses up his frustration and hatred in lofty concepts. A troll who wants people to listen to him over and over and over again until you feel satisfied and vindicated.

          Honestly, the comment strings on the various posts that your little readers have started are like some sort of performance art, attempting to engage in a social commentary on the fact that a) atheist bloggers are insular b) don’t have a sense of humour c) don’t realise that there is a world outside the US and d) cant actually read a blog post for understanding. And its the type of performance art that is wedged so far up its own backside that only those directly involved find it anything but cringable and puerile.

          At this stage, you have essentially turned into a parody of yourself.

          I’d suggest a little naval gazing about your life and your choices. Its an ‘interesting’ legacy you’re leaving.

          You are now just dull. Not rational, not edgy, not honest, not clear thinking. Dull.

          • You have the internet. Figure out what PRATT is. And my word count is in direct response to explaining the reasons why I say what I do. That you can’t deal with these reasons honestly and with integrity and politeness and good tone is not my problem. All you continue to do is avoidance. All I keep doing is staying on target. More maligning of me and my character by you is simply a sign of desperation. Again, that’s your problem.

        • “I’m not the one claiming to not know how to obtain a bible in such a literate culture nor suggest that I would have to ‘smuggle’ one home once purchased because of the disapproval of other atheists, it is presumed. Nasty and intolerant bunch those atheists… except the nice ones like Hubby, of course. (Of course, I can’t be ______ because one of my best friends is ________.) Standard PRATT again.”

          You presume wrong. I ‘smuggled’ it home because I was embarrassed that I would be seen by member of my family carrying such a ridiculous book. I had always treated it with such contempt that I didnt want to be seen with it, because of my own ego.

          Most of your asserions are based on your own faulty thinking. Your own broken world view and your own anger. Your own stereotypes. Your own deep insecurities. As I said, you are a parody of an atheist. And not even a very good one.

      • I appreciate you taking time to reply. I didn’t come to my questions via Tildeb. I came to my questions after reading your post. So you need not feel you have to clean anything up regarding your answers here.

        Your own testimony just left me questioning why you would dislike a religion you said you didn’t know anything about and how it is you came to regard Christianity as the right religion. Did you try out any others?

        • Thank you 😊
          You didnt exactly ask for what Im going to explain now, but I think its germaine to the general topic, and why I would not like a religion that I didnt know anything about.

          I think that something that other blogs and commenters have failed to realise while criticising me and calling me a liar is just how atheistic Australia can be, certainly in the alternative, left wing, middle class environment that I have spent my life in. Its just a given christianity is odd, and not something that ‘we’ do. People are spending a lot of time projecting their environments onto me. And my god, I would probably be scarred and hurt if Id have grown up in a fundie environment. But those saying that Im lying about not knowing where to get a bible, etc, didnt grow up in a owner built stone house, watching Monty Python movies and having their neighbours arrested in the Tasmanian environmental movement of the late 70s/ early 80s, surrounded by hippy culture with a parent that worked in an art gallery and another that learned leather work from one of Australias formost leather artists.

          My point is that all our lives and experinces are different. It is possible that someone ( me) can grow up without chrisians. Without a bible. Hearing that christianity is something for the ignorant.

          Yes I did look into others; christianity was not something that I wanted to come to. I certainly spent a lot of time ‘trying on’ buddhism, and also wicca. I like a lot about the wiccan worldview, and its love of nature. I still have quite a lot of that in my heart. But I kept getting pulled back to Jesus. And while I feel that my belief in God was a ‘brain’ decision, my choice to follow christianity was purely a leap of faith, in the end.

          • It’s quite odd to see the atheism you describe parallel the Christianity(and probably other teligions) in other places.

            I suppose for most of those commenting here, myself included, our atheism has been something attained through our study of nature, life, and religion. We’ve come to the conclusion that it isn’t very likely that there is a god, much less a specific one we could name.

            I don’t think I’ve ever come across someone who was a casual atheist who disavowed Christianity without knowing much about it. In fact I’ve never, even when I called myself a Christian, thought there was anything casual about atheism. All of the atheists I know have well-reasoned arguments as to why any one religion or god doesn’t withstand scrutiny. Not just a generalized opinion that [insert religion] is odd.

            • Well there was a progression. I was an atheist kid, without knowing much about it. I did more research and become more passionate in my 20s; my anger was directed at creationists, etc. Which still stands to be fair. But I extrapolated that out to stereotyping all people of faith.

              Does that answer the question? I mean that genuinely. I cant understand why some people think Im fabricating parts of my story, and Im keen to know where I’ve made a mistake, to be honest!

              • What did you reasearch? Did you research ideas with which you disagreed looking for confirmation of your disagreement or did you research seeking to understand why creationists believe the things they believe? And without the aid of a bible? Do you not have local book stores? Do they not carry bibles?

                The main points if contention here seem to be your statement that you knew virtually nothing about Christianity prior to ‘hearing the calling’ and your seemingly scapegoating atheism for your anger.

                Clearly you were exposed to some form of Christianity in grade 3. Was this only in grade 3 or was it in every grade up to 3? And did it stop at grade 3 or did it go beyond?

                And you have revealed here that you did at least some research in your 20’s. So to say that you didn’t know anything about Christianity isn’t quite the case.

                I’m more inclined to think that rather than scapegoating atheism for your angry your telling is more a descriptive of how you at least think you were as an atheist. Clearly you know atheists who aren’t militants nor angry.

                I’m not sure if people think you are completely fabricating parts of your story or are embellishing parts for affect at the expense of atheism and in order to gain credibility with your peers.

                I think it might go a long way if you elaborated on your progression instead of relying on what seems to be a pretense of ignorance of Christianity.

                I think it’s fair to say you didn’t particularly like what you *did* know of it. But you have to seriously discount(better known as cherry-picking) to get around some of the issues you don’t agree with even if you can reconcile evolution with scripture.

                A question remains in my mind. Do you believe in a literal bodily crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus as The Messiah?

                I hope I haven’t insulted you with my response. That isn’t my intention.

              • No, I feel your questions are genuine rather than a ‘gotcha’ in disguise, so no insult taken.

                Remeber also though that my post is a 5 minutes talk. And I’ve clearly said it is such. There wasnt time for a full explanation of all the twists and turns my faith journey has taken. That is what this blog is for, that is the ‘elaboration’ on my progression and I can promise you that every point that I have been taken to task on has been discussed here, over the last 5 years. Do I expect people to have memorised each post? Of course not. But I dont think its acceptable to be accused of lying with the evidence is all here, in multiple posts.

                What I knew of christianity was the bad bits; the Ken Ham, the answers in Genesis crap. Thats the stuff I had researched. I knew nothing about real Christian living, about actual people in the community, about life within the church.

                As for the literal resurrection. im not sure. Id lean towards yes, but when it comes down to it I couldnt say Im 100% certain.

                When it comes down to it, I feel that the people criticising me have a very insular and limited idea of the way people live their lives. They seem to think that, because my life and family and the society doesnt parralel their lives, it must be untrue. I cant conceptualise living in a culture of southern baptist culture, kids reciting bible passages and purity balls, but Im not going to say that people dont experience them.

                (I’ve answered the bit about my bible search somewhere else in the comments but I understand if you dont want to wade through the tedium. Ill cut and paste when I find it).

              • This answers your question about bibles;

                As for not knowing where to get a bible, I thought that there might be dedicated bible shops, but couldnt find any in my town. And this was before online shopping ( nothing makes you feel old like a bunch of people saying ‘she is lying because she could read a bible on an app, so therefore, fabricated story’. There was a lot of life lived before the internet, people). And I went to one bookstore but was told they didnt stock them. I don’t know, maybe I live in an atheist paradise or something?

            • Hi Ruth, I wonder if I, as another Aussie, can comment, and support what Eva has said. The USA is a very different country to Australia, and as Eva said, it must be very easy to project US experience here, just as it would be easy for me to do the opposite if not for the large number of Americans online to learn from.

              In my experience, Australia is not a christian country, or an atheist country, or an agnostic country. We are a bunch of individuals, most of who don’t give much thought to religion, or anti-religion, at all. American christians are (generally) a galaxy away from the christianity I believe in, and American atheists equally far away from Aussie non-believers.

              I can understand how a christian-turned-atheist in the US Bible belt might feel very defensive, especially if they were gay, black, female or voted for Obama, and I can sympathise with that. If I lived there, I would only be one of those four, and I would still find it difficult to be part of a US church – I know because I have a close relative living there. But really, the whole world isn’t like the US!

              My upbringing was quite secular but not atheistic, as most Aussies’ is. But of course there are families who are very religious and (less) families and subcultures that are quite atheist. Eva’s upbringing was in one of those subcultures – not common overall, but not uncommon in certain parts of the country, including rural Tasmania, where environmental care was very important.

              Now here’s the interesting thing. Atheist deconverts tend to hate it if christians tell them they weren’t really christians once. You have mentioned how you once called yourself a christian and you expect us believe you, which I do. So why is it that some atheists accuse rather than check out the facts first by asking questions as you did? Why the difficulty in believing Eva’s upbringing and life were as she said? Why cannot atheists behave towards christians in this matter in the way they want christians to behave towards them? Or is it just the religious who should be fair?

              Please note, I am not accusing you of doing those things, for you asked first. But I am interested in why you think there is an inconsistent standard here.

              • It makes no sense to have zero religious exposure on the one hand while claiming angry atheism on the other. It makes no sense to claim not knowing any Christians on the one hand while claiming to hold them in contempt with the other. The whole testimonial reads like this as if Eva’s journey was from angry atheism (rampant according to her friend) to theism… but without any exposure to the tehism side of it.

                Now, that might make sense to you if, say, she had an ongoing interest through books and media and the internet to civil and legal atrocities carried out in the name of Christianity and so responded with justified anger spilling over to Christians themselves. Again, I would have no problem with this explanation. But we’re being sold a package about a supposed ‘journey’ that is full of incongruity as to be unbelievable in regards to the truth value of her claimed atheistic causal roots. It’s not her prior atheism that is that root cause of her weird disdain of Christianity and Christians, nor has anything whatsoever to do with Dawkins: it’s entirely her. And she clearly doesn’t understand the difference and refuses to admit her claims about her prior atheism has exactly nothing to do with her later theism. Nothing.

                • Hi Tildeb, since you addressed me I will answer, though I doubt you’ll find it helpful, I’m sorry.

                  1. I don’t speak on behalf of Eva, I have never met her face-to-face, and I can only go by what she says here.

                  2. I don’t recall her saying she had “zero religious exposure”. She has said she knew about fundamentalist christians, and there were scripture classes in her school which she didn’t attend, and doubtless she knew some children who attended. I wouldn’t think anyone, you or I, have enough information from this blog to know exactly how much exposure she had and what kind of exposure and what kind of christianity. The one thing we can say is that it was limited and negative exposure. I can’t see why you would contest that.

                  (I have the advantage of being Australian and having twice visited her home town in rural Tasmania – of course I didn’t know it was her home town then. It is a small town and not all that far from large wilderness areas that were much fought over. She lived, from her reports here, among a small group of dedicated environmentalists, “alternates” and atheists. That is very believable to me.)

                  3. I must confess to not having read all of your comments here. But in what I have read, I cannot recall asingle piece of compelling evidence that you have offered to suggest we should believe your suspicions about her life rather than her own report. All I see is you saying what is in YOUR head – what you would judge from half a world away to be more likely. (You might even be right that it would be more likely for most Aussies, but she lived in a small sub-group, somewhat different to the life of most of us.) So your comments are full of all the things YOU THINK, how you see it, etc. The problem is, you don’t really have any idea unless you have lived in Tasmania and among her sort of people – and even then you’d only be able to generalise.

                  You have judged her by her writing on this blog, but she is writing about things up to 40 years ago, she says, and this blog is not even 5 years old (the earliest post in her “past posts” is dated August 2011). That means you are judging her life story on the limited stuff she posted during less than one eighth of it!

                  So let’s be blunt – you don’t have any real idea and you are pulling ideas out of your head without substantial evidence. So it is hard to see why anyone should take any notice of what you say. Can you explain why we should?

                  4. You, and your blog, claim to be very evidence based about your non-belief, as opposed to us delusional christians. Yet when we get the opportunity to see your thinking processes in action, we find you make amazing strong, certain and (truth be said) extremely rude and insulting statements on factual matters on which you have no evidence. I wonder if it is the same with your non-belief. That all the time you are just making things up?

                  I’m sorry to be so frank, I’d rather avoid this argy bargy. But if you address me, politeness says I should reply. I will be interested to see if your reply is evidence based, or more out of your own head. Thanks.

              • unkleE, I agree with you the world is not the USA. Why would you even think everyone asking questions here is from the USA?

                You say

                Now here’s the interesting thing. Atheist deconverts tend to hate it if christians tell them they weren’t really christians once.

                and I agree with you totally. The question here is not whether she was an atheist. Not at all. Why would one treat people of faith with disdain and claim at the same to not know them.

                • Hi Makagutu, there are simple answers.

                  “Why would you even think everyone asking questions here is from the USA?”

                  I don’t. I know that some people come from elsewhere. But one reader mentioned the US, several people come from there and I was making a contrast with there.

                  “The question here is not whether she was an atheist. Not at all.’

                  It is difficult to know sometimes what the question is. As someone who has watched the feeding frenzy for a few days, it seems like sometimes there hasn’t been a question, just people saying they doubt her story without good reason. Those who have asked genuine questions have received answers.

                  “Why would one treat people of faith with disdain and claim at the same to not know them.”

                  I think this is pretty obvious. It’s called prejudice, and most of us have it towards someone or other. She was prejudiced against christians, apparently. She found that prejudice was unjustified, perhaps a message some people don’t want to hear.

                  Sometimes perhaps a prejudice is justified. I have never met an ISIS suicide bomber, but I certain have some opinions about them. I’m guessing you may be the same, which helps you answer your own question.

                  I suggest your question reveals some assumptions by those who think she cannot have been prejudiced unless she knew christians. Prejudice is easier when you don’t know people very well!

              • Makagutu,
                Maybe it is a simple issue of language that is the problem here. When I say ‘ I didnt know any christians’ what I would infer that means is that I didnt have any family, or friends, or people that I could ring up to have coffee with, that was a christian. I had met christians in my life; there were a few at college, and I worked with one at my first school. But there was noone at all in my day to day life, or week to week life, or even month to month life, or that I had the phone number of, that was a christian. I suppose ‘know’ is a world that may be interpreted differently depending where you live?

  14. For the record, I was asking you questions because I was genuinely curious how you would answer them and I wanted to give you the opportunity to elaborate. Good for you for choosing a path that makes sense to you,

    See, I was an atheist. And not a nice, breezy atheist who doesn’t believe in God but it completely happy for those who do, like my husband. I was an angry opinionated atheist, and I really didn’t like religion.(emphasis mine).

    Indeed, I noticed you delimited your answers in such a way that you can’t really be talking about ALL atheists, although I wanted you to clarify on that point. Most of your critics are not applying the the principle of charity to your statements. They also seem to be reading quite a bit into your language choices.

    • I dont mind being questioned, even quite abruptly. But I just know that some of the comments ( not yours, I stress) have been deliberately setting me up for the ‘gotcha’ moment ( as I’ve said already, I think). I’m at the stage now when I know that people are assuming the worst, and literally nothing I can say will make them happy. So I can’t be arsed playing along. I felt that you were asking questions of me genuinely, and listening to my answers. So thanks for that!.

      • I’m at the stage now when I know that people are assuming the worst, and literally nothing I can say will make them happy.

        Not true.

        It would make me happy if you retracted your accusation that associated your anger and ‘fundamentalism’ and anti-Christian feelings to your supposed Dawkins-following atheism. That association is the lie. It came entirely from you and that’s the truth you refuse to admit. Stop associating negative characteristics you displayed with atheism. Stop going along quietly with the testimonials that paint atheism in such a negative light, as if it caused your attitudes and biases. It’s simply not true that atheism is responsible for any of this you lay at its door and it smears all atheists… whether you’re married or related to them or not, whether you see it or not.

        • I think that you maybe have projected all these things. I seriously think that you’re on such a hair- trigger when it comes to my discussing this topic that you will infer completely unintended meanings from my words. But I’ve asked for clarification else where so I wont do it again.

          • I’ve been reading Tildeb’s blog for a while now and can say that I am admirer. I’ve been reading the comments through here and I can’t help but notice your persistence in trying to make this rift between you two out to be the result of Tildeb’s anger and cynicism rather than your own deceit. Your last post is certainly evidence of that. He has repeatedly called you out on your assertion that there is a direct causal link between your anger and intolerance and your atheism – and you have repeatedly avoiding responding to that accusation and have instead made it into a failing/misunderstanding on his part. I believe that is what has him miffed, if I may speak for him. You’ve said so yourself – “the God Delusion was your bible” and that you were “about as intolerant and fundamentalist as you can get”. This is the link that you asserted yourself between your anger, intolerance and your atheism. This is the assertion that he keeps calling you out on that you refuse to address.
            Now If I may point out a few things
            1) There is nothing in The God Delusion that could make you, or anyone else angry or intolerant. And it certainly couldn’t be considered a “bible” by any stretch of the imagination. It contains within its pages, refutations of the theistic (and even deistic) arguments and assertions that there is a deity who is in control of the universe, who gives us morals, etc. It also contains critiques of some of the nastier things that have been done by people over the centuries as a direct result of their belief in God. He explains his motivations for being so hostile to organized religion (i.e. opposition to homosexual marriage and abortion, promoting faith over skeptical thinking, teaching creationism to school children with tax payer money, amoung the many pernicious things that some religious people feel their belief grants them license to undertake)
            2) I don’t see how you can claim or could ever have claimed to be a “fundamentalist” atheist. There is nothing to be fundamentalist about. There are no fundamental principles of atheism. It is simple a word for non-belief in a deity and that’s it. I have heard the argument made and wholeheartedly agree with it, that the word atheist unnecessary and pointless. There is no such word in the English language to describe nonbelief in anything else supernatural or mythical (for example, there is no such word a a-unicornist or a-leprechaunist or a-phychicist). As it should be with belief in a supernatural being who created me and has a plan for me and is in charge of everything for all of eternity.

            You wrote to Tildeb: “I think that you maybe have projected all these things. I seriously think that you’re on such a hair- trigger when it comes to my discussing this topic that you will infer completely unintended meanings from my words.” If that is the case, then can you please explain why you referred to The God Delusion as “your bible” and why you were an “intolerant and fundamentalist” atheist if you didn’t mean to imply a direct causal relationship between your atheism and your intolerance and fundamentalism? Why not just say that you were an angry, intolerant and fundamentalist person who has since converted to Christianity and found peace? What’s atheism got to do with any of that?

            • Your primary issue rests, essentially, on Tildebs assertion. I’ll address your question after Tildeb has answered what I asked of him above. I am unaware of the direct correlation between my atheism how that made me an angry person. In my mind I disliked christians, they made me irritated by their stupidity, and I was an atheist because of this. But im waiting for Tildeb to give me some direct quotes proving his assertion and I’ll get back to you then.

              • Oh, so now you want another explanation that requires even more words. Gosh, damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

                Tell you what, I’ll paste my comment to Barry who asks a very similar question:

                @ Barry, who wrote
                “I don’t see anything that implies she was either angry or opinionated because she was an atheist.”
                Really?
                Eva, by her own admission, wasn’t just a non believer, was she? No. That would have been too innocuous, presumably. No, she was a self-identified atheist. Not the breezy type, mind you, but an angry and opinionated atheist. (There are kinds, you see.) Angry at what, she does not say… other than she was not familiar with the dominant culture and its embedded Christianity nor aware of any Christians who had really pissed her off. (Incongruity seems to be a theme here, have you noticed?) And it’s not like she was just angry and opinionated, either. No. There was something more to that, so let’s find out.
                She was an angry and opinionated atheist. Oh yes, one of THOSE. Why, pray tell? Well, she tells us she didn’t like religion. That makes her an anti-theist, which is not a synonym for atheism but hey, literary license, am I right?
                So although she knew nothing about religion she knew she didn’t like it. Enough to make her angry. Now why might that be, with any overt religion nowhere in sight anywhere in her life?
                This is where it gets good, Barry.
                She tells us why: the God Delusion was her Bible!
                See what she did there? She attributed her angry and opinionated atheism AND anti-theism – especially towards Christianity and Christians – to be caused by holding Dawkins’ The God Delusion as scripture!
                Wow. an anti-bible bible!
                And look at what that actually means: Eva tells us in the explanation for this that she was as intolerant and fundamentalist in her atheism as one can get – because of Dawkins, you see, because of the God Delusion, you see, because of her anger and opinions, you see, because of her ATHEISM. You know, the Dawkins kind.
                Now you may be charitable for this kind of unmitigated bull…t – presumably if it has to do with becoming a generic Christian rather than, say,a supporter of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, or Aum Shinrikyo. After all, Eva seems to be a genuinely nice person… right up until it comes to atheism.
                Look, I’m sick and tired of people going along to get along with this kind of intentional and malignant deception. People need to be held accountable for the kinds of claims they make. I imagine if we made the name ‘Eva’ synonymous with lying and being intentionally deceitful, you might not be so ready to presume this is simply a mild form of literary license for which we should be more tolerant and charitable as people use the term more and more often to indicate a kind of excuse for being nasty.
                In principle this is what you’re suggesting in your cloy way when it comes to criticizing Eva. Well, in school yard parlance, she started it so I’m simply holding her accountable for this kind of lying.

              • Nope, you havent done it. You have not shown a direct statemenr where I made that claim. Not a ‘that means’, not a ‘why would that be’. Give me the statement where I said it Tildeb. Until you can do that, we’re done.

                • Oh, for crying out loud, I have already quoted it many times:

                  “See, I was an atheist. And not a nice, breezy atheist who doesn’t believe in God but it completely happy for those who do, like my husband. I was an angry opinionated atheist, and I really didn’t like religion. Especially Christians. The God Delusion was my bible, and I was about as intolerant and fundamentalist as you can get. This started early;…”

                  The Big Lie is that you extracted this kind of angry, opinionated, intolerant, fundamentalist atheism from atheism generally and Dawkins’ God Delusion specifically. You admit you weren’t exposed to much religion, little Christianity, few Christians, and so you are implying by the order of this paragraph that all this negative crap was the result of atheism itself rather than you. Atheism of the New kind – especially any related to a book that cam out only 10 years ago – plays no part of any of this description of yourself as angry, opinionated, intolerant anti-Christian. There’s no such thing as fundamentalist atheist and certainly no fundamentalism you can relate to either the God Delusion or any activism by New Atheists. You’re just making this up and presenting it as if true when it’s not.

                  You wrote it this way, Eva, on purpose and in this order to give a highly negative impression of your ‘before’. You have used and abused atheism of the Dawkins kind to paint yourself as a wretch without your evolved religious belief. The wretchedness, it needs to be said, is not associated with atheism as you paint it here. It belongs wholly and solely to you as a disagreeable person and has nothing whatsoever to do with The God Delusion or any of the New Atheism activism. That’s scapegoating.

              • ‘You’re just making this up and presenting it as if true when it’s not’

                Right back atcha.

                You have in no way proven that your premiss was my intention. You have just not given me the evidence. I doubt your faulty reasoning has convinced anyone ( except a few of those already on your ‘side’) that your argument is sound and in fact quite a few people who are usually sympathetic to you have essentially told you that you have miscalled this one ( here and in other comment sections).

                But you just cant step back. If becoming a christian is fulfilling a deep and suspect psychological need for me, as others have decided, then your behaviour here is doing the same thing. You HAVE to disclose my dishonesty. You HAVE to make me pay. You HAVE to make others aware of my nefariousness.

                There are certainly some significant psychological components there. But it’s much easier to attack my character than look at your own motives, isn’t it.

                In short, as we say in Australia; ‘You’ve made a dick of yourself, mate’

              • “In my mind I disliked Christians, they made me irritated by their stupidity, and I was an atheist because of this”
                That is called bigotry, not atheism. A person is an atheist for 1 reason only – because they don’t believe in god. If you disliked all Christians because you found the ones you knew/met to be stupid, then that makes you bigoted against Christians. It has nothing to do with Atheism. There are many Jews, Buddhists and Muslims who dislike Christians for many, many reasons. None of them have a single solitary thing to do with atheism. Disliking a group of people one finds to be stupid does not make anyone stop believing in god.

              • Hi Ashley,
                Because I thought christians were so stupid and ignorant, given what I had read by Ken Ham and the like, It automatically followed ( for me) that this god could not exist. I didnt understand what I know now, about the rich complexity of the chrisitian experince, the Rohrs of the world, the Ignation spirituality, the Benedictines. Did I stereotype? Absolutely. Was I bigoted? Maybe. But because what I knew of christinity was so negative, in my mind, their god could not possibly exist. My belief that there was no god meant that I was an atheist.
                But, truly, the cause and effect that is being studied so unbelievably closely on this little blog of mine, with a handful of readers, about a little to speech to maybe 50 people, makes me wonder. I think that I was an atheist because I believed christians to be ignorant. In order to ensure I was as far as possibly removed from this belief, I was an atheist. But maybe I have said differently else where? I dont know. I didnt realise this talk to such a small number of people, and readers, would need such close justification.
                I hope that clears that up for you.
                There may be another point you would like me to clarify?

              • I have read through your explanations and reasoning for being and “atheist” and the only thing I can say to you is that you used (and in my opinion continue to use) some extremely faulty logic. I put the word atheist in quotation marks because of what you’ve written “It automatically followed ( for me) that this god could not exist…” and “in my mind, their god could not possibly exist….”. which, again, is clearly not atheism. I have one reason for not believing in god – because there is no good reason to. There is no evidence that such a being exists. All arguments for the existence of such a being are illogical and irrational. Does this mean I know for certain such a being doesn’t exist? No. Does it mean that this being possibly cannot exist? No. I simply don’t believe that it does. But there is every possibility that I am wrong and that such a being does exist. It is a matter of belief (not having any) and not knowledge (certainty that it does not exist). That might seem like mere semantics, but it’s not. It’s simple logic – something that is extremely precious to me. But anyway, I’m not trying to get you to explain any more on that topic. I understand your reasons for being what you called and atheist, I just wanted to point out that your reasoning was flawed. You can take it or leave it for what it’s worth.
                However, I do have some things I’d like you to clarify. I also have noticed that you have said that as an atheist, you were as “fundamentalist (and intolerant) as you can get” and that you used The God Delusion as your bible. Can you clarify what you meant by being fundamentalist? What were you fundamentalist about? How did you use The God Delusion as your bible?

                • I supposed that I was drawing parallels between ‘fundamentalist’ Christians, who embody all the worst things about the faith. They use the Bible to justify their beliefs, and cannot accept the truth of anything but their own belief. The description was somewhat of a literary device, you understand. It was a reflective narrative of my take on my journey and never anything but. Given the analysis that has now taken place, I think that a reader-response criticism would have been far more relevant, as what we have seen here is a lot of back and forth regarding whether I have used logic appropriately, or whether I attempting to bring a group into disrepute. I think that the way individuals have responded to the text, and the evolving realisiation that a piece of writing takes on a meaning apart from the one the writer intended would be more relevant now.

              • “I supposed that I was drawing parallels between ‘fundamentalist’ Christians, who embody all the worst things about the faith. They use the Bible to justify their beliefs, and cannot accept the truth of anything but their own belief.”
                That must mean that you were drawings parallels between yourself using The God Delusion to justify your intolerance and fundamentalism and Fundamentalist Christians using the Bible to justify their intolerance and fundamentalism, must it not?
                You said you were drawing parallels between ‘fundamentalist’ Christians’….but you never mentioned who the other person or persons were on the other side of the parallel. And since I asked what you meant by using The God Delusion as your bible, and you provided me with this answer, I am forced to conclude that the parallel you are referring to is between them and yourself.

                • I’m going to tell you that, yes Ashley, you are completely right, because this seems very very important to you, and I actually have no idea what you’re talking about at this stage. So yes, Ashley. You have won, with your superior reasoning skills and dogged determination to bring the truth to light. I am humbly sorry that I ever though that I could ever pull a fast one over you. I did not, in fact, expect the Spanish Inquisition, as noone really does, but now I shall be prepared, always.

                  Well done.

              • Yeah, you got me there Eva! You have no idea what I’m talking about when I ask you what you meant by you telling everyone that you used The God Delusion as your bible and then when you tell me that you said it to draw parallels between your former intolerant, angry, atheist self and Fundamentalist Christians who use their bible to justify their behaviour! This is sooooooo incredibly complicated isn’t it? I totally Spanish Inquisitioned you.
                You have no idea how perfectly you exemplify Christianity. Congratulations on your new found tolerance and wisdom. I wish I could be half as smart as you. Some people just got all the luck I guess.

  15. Hello there!

    I’m actually here via Mak’s and Barry’s posts. I actually posted a comment on Mak’s post, because when I read your testimonial, it had the same style of many testimonials I’ve heard growing up in the church (but not exactly the same structure). Even before I deconverted from Christianity, I had become skeptical of such testimonies.

    That is to say, I don’t have any reason to doubt what you say in your testimony. Rather, I know that it may get used by other Christians (American Christians, to be specific) to support quiet and polite stereotypes against atheists. To be quite clear, none of this is your fault, and it’s probably not what you intended with this post. Sadly, people can warp anything to further a specific end.

    Putting some perspective on this, in my part of the world, every convert to Christ would put a part in their testimony about not really believing in the Christian deity (whether they said atheist outright happened about a third of the time). Then they’d talk about hating this deity, or being snide to Christians, or some blending of the two.

    I mention this in an attempt to explain why some people (including myself at first) are doubtful about testimonies like yours. That said, I also would like to say that you shouldn’t have to feel bad or try to hide who you were. Your congregation should welcome people who can broaden their perspectives on people who are different from them.

    • Hi there Sirius,
      Thanks for your comment. You know, I have seen it mentioned thst people think that my testimony mirrors others. This is interesting to me, because ivr never really heard a ‘testimony’ before. Before being asked to speak at my church, Id never heard anyone talk about their faith journey at church- im not sure if theres a US equivilent of the Uniting Church, but people do not ‘make testimonies’ as maybe they do in the US? I dont know. I’m going to assume that I must have read others online and learnt a template, because there was no template in my head that I was aware of. And I imagine that I would have avoided evangelical stories like the plague; that’s never been a group that I’ve identified with. I did make it similar to a blog post though, so maybe thats the common denominator?

      • Sorry again for the long comment.

        There is no Uniting Church here in the States, but there are liberal churches (I’m a former Lutheran, so I’m familiar with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America; I was a member of a different organization of Lutheran Churches called the Missouri Synod or LCMS for short). I also live in the Southeast U.S., where there are a lot more conservative churches (like Pentecostals, Church of Christ, and some snake handler churches).

        Testimonials are so common in the U.S. that they have become almost completely the same. They’re used to introduce speakers to congregations. Unfortunately, in more conservative congregations this also leads to snickering about non-believers and other less than charitable remarks. But it doesn’t happen everywhere.

        The worst thing that I’ve realized is that there are a lot of testimonies related here in the States where they massage the truth, and especially about being an atheist. I’ve known people who said they were atheists who worshiped the devil, who said they were atheists who dabbled in the occult, and atheists who worshiped some kind of secular idea like evolution or money. Congregations also sometimes tend to pressure people into changing their testimonies over time.

        What I’m trying to say is that the problem isn’t even your testimony. Indeed, honesty is always the best policy (even if others try to ruin it).

        • Thanks for that. I know that my story is honest; and yes, I have thought deeply over the last few days about whether I was misrepresenting anything. Some of my earliest posts talk about by atheist past, and ive linked to them somewhere here, as tildeb was very insistent that I had never, ever said made such a claim in the past. I stopped at 3 different citations 😊

          I think I’m becoming defensive now, which I dont love, but I feel is understandable at this point. But, as I’ve said, if there is an absolute case of dishonesty here I would be happy to hear it. I’m actually happy to admit when I make a mistake and im absolutely able to say that I dont have the all answers. Maybe its a spaghetti monster after all 😉 Long time readers can attest to this, I think.

        • I agree with you, SB. I think that part of the problem is that atheism is so vilified in American(and other) culture that even the appearance of such get jumped on like white on rice.

          Here we’re the most distrusted group. We’re presumed to have no morals because we don’t answer to a higher power.. Apparently, where Eva is from, it’s just no big deal and it’s certainly not a character breaker. So, for her to say what she’s said to the people of her church isn’t maligning the character of atheists because they all likely know atheists who aren’t angry and fundamentalist.

          • Hi Ruth,

            I have heard from enough other US non-christians to know that many feel the way you do – that atheists are vilified and distrusted. I’ve even seen surveys that show that. I have to say I’m sorry that happens. Even though I’m a christian, I would find much US christianity difficult to take. And you are right to observe that here in Australia it’s generally different.

            The problem, as I’m sure you recognise, is that angry or illogical or hyper-critical behaviour by atheists doesn’t help. Atheists are in the somewhat difficult position of being urged by some to shame and mock believers, while knowing this will actually make things difficult. Christians can accept some form of persecution because we believe in a higher cause, but if atheism is the denial of belief in God as is often said, then it is hardly a higher cause, so why promote persecution?

            Some atheists say that they are motivated by the importance of rational thought (which they say is opposed by faith) or the idea that christianity is dangerous. I think that there is some truth in both these ideas, but that overall the evidence is against them. But regardless, if those are atheist aims, they may do better to stop being so vehemently opposed to all christians, and just oppose those people who are dangerously irrational, whether they are christian or not.

            I think too that some christians could likewise be more careful about who and what they target.

            These are just a few random comments on how, perhaps, we might see more peace and understanding and less nastiness.

            • Hi unkleE.

              I don’t see atheism as a higher cause, nor do I see belief in gods as a higher cause. For if I believe none exists I see it as a futile exercise to believe in and worship any.

              As believers you are actually commissioned to endure and accept persecution. As a result many Christians proclaim persecution where there actually isn’t any. Disagreement and denial of your God is not persecution. Asking for equal rights under the law for all, even if said rights are in opposition to personal beliefs, is not persecution. All too often some Chritian carry around a persecution complex.

              The promotion of rational thought, equality, and social justice are higher causes. Belief or lack thereof notwithstanding.

              I will say here what I’ve said elsewhere; anger, fundamentalism, and militancy, in my opinion, are a product of personality and/or indoctrination.

              I’m as opposed to atheism and atheists being maligned as anyone. I have a vested stake in atheists being taken seriously and being respected. I agree to a point with certain criticisms here. I just never thought that Eva intentionally, deliberately, lied about her experience in order to disrespect or malign atheists.

              I do think it makes a difference where you are from. If atheism really is no big deal there I can see why she never even thought about it from that point of view.

              I took, from her statements, that she was an angry, fundamentalist atheist therefore she took The God Delusion as her bible because it confirmed what she already believed rather than thinking her anger and fundamentalism came as a result of her reading the same.

              Finally, I think there are some quite valid reasons for atheists to be angry. Often that anger is accepted by Christians as persecution when it is really atheists pushing back against irrationality and inequality.

              • Hi Ruth,
                I think that you make an important point here;
                ‘If atheism really is no big deal there I can see why she never even thought about it from that point of view.’
                Its hard for me to conceptualise a place where atheists are villified. A recent PM was one, to no huge fuss. As far as I can see, its essentially the default position. I know that the census states that there are a lot of christians here, but ai certainly dont see that in my day to day life.

              • “Its hard for me to conceptualise a place where atheists are vilified”
                Have a chat with Victoria (Neuronotes blog) and see what it’s like to be an open non-believer in the American Bible belt. Pick up a newspaper or read a website about any country the middle east – like say Bangladesh, where atheist bloggers are hacked to death in the middle of the street or say Saudi Arabia where the ambassador declares that all atheists are terrorists. I think after that, you might be very easily able to conceptualize what it’s like to be vilified (or worse) for simply not believing in god.

                • No, I cant conceptualize what it would be like to be in that environment. I just cant get my head around how difficult it would be, and I would never presume to pretend I know how persecuted groups live. I think imagining that I could would do a grave disservice to these groups. Empathise? Sure. But truly imagine? Absolutely not.

  16. Hi Eva, I have not been commenting here for a while now, but I think a few lessons can now be drawn from this episode. (I’ve posted the same comment on Barry’s blog.)

    1. Your critics have attacked you for describing how you used to feel when you were a child and a younger adult, and an atheist. They have inferred certain attitudes that they object to, and maintained their objection despite your, and others’, explanations and exhortations that their inferences were not in fact correct. At the same time they have felt free to call you and your post all manner of quite nasty names – liar, an insecure coward, the Big Lie, unmitigated bull…t, whining, she’s lying, etc. and presumably expect you NOT to take offence at something that is way more nasty than anything they suspect you to have said.

    Now if they can’t see there is an inconsistency here, then their thinking is very different to mine, and I suspect yours and many readers of your blog. Such different ways of thinking are unlikely to ever be able to discuss much.

    2. Human beings have developed ways of relating that avoid conflict (though we don’t always employ them). We try to behave politely face-to-face, otherwise a family or friendship breakdown, a fight, a libel case or even a war may result. Sadly, these same standards are not followed as often on the web. Calling people the sorts of names you have been subjected to, regardless of any perceived provocation, is simply inexcusably bad manners. If they think you have been guilty of that same fault, gently bringing it to your attention may have achieved far more (and couldn’t achieved less!) than the vitriol.

    3. Your blog is not public property. It is YOUR blog, and all visitors come as your guests. It is analogous to a stranger knocking at your front door. They have every right to do so provided you haven’t put out signs that visitors are not wanted, but you have every right to ask them to leave. And you have some responsibility for what goes on on your blog – there have been cases of people being held legally responsible if they allowed certain statements by others to remain on their website.

    So you have every right, and possibly even some responsibility to your other readers, to vet what is said and to ask people to leave (by filtering them out) if you find their comments in breach of normal human standards of discussion.

    I think you have paid your dues, you have been attacked way beyond reason and courtesy, and you have tried to be patient (even giving one critic a second chance). You may even be able to find some positive lesson out of it all – or maybe not!

    Best wishes to you. I think you and your popular blog deserve a little better than all this.

    • I just hope that people realise that not ALL atheists are angry and intolerant likeTildeb and Ashley. Most atheists are good, kind and reasonable people.
      I should have made that point in my original post.
      Oh, hang on…

      • Thank heaven you’re not like that any more, now that you don’t use The God Delusion as your bible right Eva?
        Uh oh! I must be acting “angry and intolerant” again – I said something you’re probably not gonna like!
        That’s how that works right? I don’t like what you say = You’re intolerant and angry.

  17. You know you wrote something good when you get some criticism. Your testimony is from the heart and you as a human being have every right to evolve and not stay stagnant.

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  19. Dear Eva,
    It was very interesting to read your personal account. God speaks to our hearts in ways we do not understand and can indeed move even the most stubborn individual out of a position of unbelief.
    If we continue to be willing to hear Him, He will draw us into a closer relationship of love as He teaches and disciplines us in the areas we need to be healed.

  20. Loved this post, possibly because I was raised an agnostic by two PhD biologists. I had my own spiritual conversion at around age 35. Since then, I’ve explored Buddhism, Taoism, and Christianity. They all contain truths about the nature of human consciousness that the “we are biological machines” brand of atheism doesn’t.
    I’ve been meaning to write a post on suffering. It’s one of those atheist arguments against God that I once found troubling. That argument is probably best summarized by Stephen Fry. Just search for “Stephen Fry Annihilates God” on YouTube.
    Sam Harris, who is probably the second most well known living atheist after Dawkins, wrote a book on spirituality from the atheist’s perspective that I thought was pretty good: “Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion”

    • Thanks; I’ve read Du Botton’s ‘Religion for Atheists’ but not the Sam Harris. For some reason I didn’t ever respond to his writing as much as I did Dawkins. Maybe because I already loved Dawkins evolutionary biology books so was already a fan of his writing. I hope you do write that post of suffering. I’d enjoy reading it.

  21. Eva,
    It took me a while to get to this chat box, reading all the comments on this post. Whew is all I have to say. No seriously, thank you for sharing your testimony on how God is changing you and your beliefs. I am proud to say that I am a Christian, I totally believe in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The one commandment that Jesus gave us was to love God and love others. So, I do my best to do just that, regardless of if they are athiests, muslims, other religions. I have friends that are gay/lesbian, whereas I only believe in marriage by a man and woman. Not knowing anything about athiests other than they don’t believe in God, I can’t begin to comment on what I don’t know, but I can say that I applaud you in your responses to the comments that have been made.

    Oh, I also looked up PRATT as I am from the US and had no idea what that meant. Now I know.
    My thoughts are this: we all have choices that we make every day. In our lives, we have to be happy with our choices. If we aren’t happy, then we need to change them. However, trying to change someone to our belief system with bullying them is unacceptable.I am happy for you and I think it’s a sad shame that other people cannot see that you are happy too.
    Many blessings on your new walk.

    • I agree; loving others is number one. And as they say ‘hurt people hurt others’. So I just prayed for peace for them and wisdom for me and moved on. Thanks for stopping by ❤

  22. Eva, thanks for liking one of my posts. More, thanks for putting parts of your life on display for us to enjoy. I liked your “Hi, I’m Eva.” and this post just added to the story.

    You have a story to tell because so many around us are languishing where you once stood. When you speak, they may find common ground.

    Lastly, as I read this post I am reminded so much of CS Lewis’ story. See it here, in two parts: https://goodnewsnow.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/the-c-s-lewis-story/

    I look forward to more from you. John

    • Thanks John, Ive been enjoying your posts and your perspectives. I’ve certainly come to appreciate CS Lewis more as the years have gone by.

  23. Hi Eva,
    Thanks for visiting my blog. And thank you for sharing this post. It can be frustrating when people do not take what you offer in the way it was intended, but that doesn’t mean that we should not continue to share our stories.
    Peace
    J

    • Hi Justin, good to hear from you again. ‘Frustrating’ is one word for it! I actually received an email from someone who knows one of the ‘main protagonists’ so to speak, quite well, kind of filling me on on some details of that person’s life that meant I could feel nothing but patience and understanding for her (or him). It certainly made my ‘loving kindness’ meditation easier, anyway 😉

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