Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Banana: Atheists Worst Nightmare?

       When I was an outgoing, bible toting Christian that would most likely approach you to talk about Jesus, I carried a track (religious pamphlet) that was geared towards making atheism seem foolish.  One of the arguments was titled "The Banana: Atheists Worst Nightmare."  The argument states that since the banana has a non-slip, perforated peel for easy opening, curved towards the mouth and has mouth shaped fruit, that it is a clear example of intelligent design.  I used to think this was so clever, until I used my brain.

       While the fruit may provide convenience to humans and primates alike, does it really point to the existence of an intelligent creator?  At first I thought no.  If it did point to an intelligent creator, then why aren't all fruits shaped like the banana?  Have you ever tired eating a mango?  A pineapple?  A coconut?  Not easy endeavors whatsoever.  So why would a god in his infinite wisdom choose to make one fruit convenient to eat while others are problematic?  If anything, I would think this would point towards random mutation.  Alas, the Christians were right.  The banana is solid evidence of intelligent design.  But the design does not originate from god but rather the cultivation of mankind over thousands of years.  The wild banana is anything but user friendly and completely shuts down the argument at hand.

The Subjective Christian Experience

       While the subjective in an argument is anecdotal at best, it still bears weight for the individual in why they continue to believe.  If someone tells me they experienced X,Y & Z, that means nothing to me because those experiences cannot be verified.  If I say I experienced A, B & C, it won't carry a logical impact on another's decision, but for me it can still be significant because of my first hand account.  One of the reasons I continued to have "faith" for many years is due to my subjective experiences.

       There were countless times that I would be worshiping God and feel euphoric, as if I had taken a drug.  This was not an isolated experience but rather ubiquitous as most of the other believers were familiar with the same feeling.  This was widely attributed to the presence of the Holy Spirit and is commonly referred to as being high in the spirit. After awhile I began to notice certain things.  For example, at the beginning of a church service the air conditioning would barely be running and then during worship they would crank it up full blast.  I noticed this trend in at least five other churches.  I also took notice that most visitors help themselves to the free coffee prior to the service.  I had a nagging suspicion that these two may have had something to do with what I was feeling but I wasn't convinced that they were wholly responsible.

       I began to wonder if the very act of singing can create an euphoric effect upon the individual and my research came across some very interesting information.  Time magazine released an online article found here that talks about how researchers discovered that group singing, whether in a religious setting or not, causes the brain to release endorphins and oxytocin, creating an euphoric effect.  If this is the case, combining caffeine, endorphins, oxytocin and cool blowing air can make anyone feel like they are floating in heaven.  This discovery has confirmed my suspicions and completely nullified most of my subjective experiences.

       I can even think back to my conversion experience, where Pastor Greg Laurie was giving his end of sermon altar-call.  The air conditioning was pumping, and while he made a plea for us to get right with God, he had the band behind him slowly play some sappy music to play on the emotions of the listener.  Since that day, I have seen that same scenario play out over and over.  I thought to myself "if the Holy Spirit is sent to us to be a helper, then why does He need our help?"  "Why try and stir the emotions of the listener if the Holy Spirit is truly drawing them?"  The altar call conversion experience has become a formulaic church process guaranteed to increase attendance.

       The remaining experiences have to deal with encountering "demonic possession," but in hindsight, I can see how the individuals I witnessed were likely trolling.  There were no strange multi-layered voices, superhuman strength or projectile vomiting.  Just screaming and cursing and some flailing arms.  I think there is a tendency to want to believe and experience the supernatural, that believers do not stop to think objectively about what they are seeing or feeling.

       With all of this in mind, I know that I cannot count on my subjective experiences to help prove that Christianity is not bullshit.  From this point on, I will focus on objective, scientific, measurable information and data to support that it is either true or not at all.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Welcome To my blog: Faith to Fear

The title of this blog is not a statement about the quality of my faith, but rather the progression that it has undertaken in my life after being "born-again."  Following a two-year drug addiction in high school and the discovery of said addiction by my parents, my so-called life came crashing down around me when an old friend decided to reach out to me regarding accepting Jesus as my savior.  He was the only friend I was allowed to have at the time and I eventually gave in after attending an evening service at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, CA.  Since that time I have been involved in ministries, attended bible college and yet have "back-slidden" a handful of times in the process.  Most of these incidents were the result of frustration in trying to battle personal sin without any victory to be had.  It has been at least six years now since I have stepped foot in a church, and while I want to still believe, I have nagging suspicions and recollections that lead me to believe that I wasted 20 years of my life on complete bullshit.

The purpose of this blog is not to bash Christianity or elevate atheism, but rather to share my experiences, voice my concerns regarding what I have noticed and ultimately search for a final verdict on the truth.  I invite everyone to join along with me on this journey whether you believe or don't and perhaps help shape the outcome in the comments section.  I have decided that I am either going to come out of this journey as a complete atheist or an authoritative expert in Christian apologetics.  I know that there will be many debates in the comment section as we take this journey, I only ask that we approach this in a respectful manner and avoid ad hominem whenever possible.  I thank you all for hearing me out and taking this journey with me!

- Raul