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Atheist Community of Austin

Hello everyone,

I have been struggling with some issues lately. Many of these issues deal with family and friends- explaining to them that you are unsure of the beliefs you have claimed for over 20 years. Somedays I am confident- I say I am Agnostic with my chest high, reasons for why I believe what I believe or dont believe, and then some days there are so many Christians giving me that (I am concerned about your soul- look), I back down and say I am confused or that I think too much.

But the truth is that I am in limbo. There is so much support from the Christian community when you are one, its hard to stray from this. Church and the community probably saved my life when I was a kid. My parents were negligent and I needed someone to be with- someone to guide me. How can I deny everything I have been taught since I was 7?

So, does it all come down to Origin of Life? I believe in Evolution but where did it all start? Will we ever know?

Thanks for listen to my concerns if you read this far.

"So, does it all come down to Origin of Life? I believe in Evolution but where did it all start? Will we ever know?"

Theism and creationism believes on faith in something that can't be proven. What is real is what's still there when you stop believing. If we all started with the premise that god created everything and then worked backward to prove it what would we know? I think that at the end of the day you would know what you already knew. Nothing! A person can prove that almost anything is true if they read only the evidence that is favorable to their view, and ignore any evidence that disputes their view. Faith isn't the problem; the fact that the faith is alone is the problem. Discrepancies are ignored not resolved. Philo (a historian) lived during the time of Jesus in Jerusalem, from 20 BCE to 50 CE. never once mentioned Jesus. Josephus (a historian) was also a native of Judea and was born in 37 AD. Josephus lived in Cana, which is the very city in which Christ is said to have performed his renowned miracle. Josephus never once mentions Jesus. Justin Martyr not only never quotes or mentions any of the four Gospels; he never even mentions the writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. The name "Jesus Christ" was not formally adopted until after the first Council of Nicaea. Furthermore, there is no cross in early Christian art before the middle of the 5th century. (John 8:3-11) Jesus was stoned to death and then hung on a tree. The crucifixion was added in the year 367. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree." (Acts 5.30.)" If Jesus was hung on a tree, then why say in Mark 8.34 "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Jesus was allegedly saying this long before he was crucified. Any biblical scholar already knows all of this. The Bible is not the inerrant, inspired, word of god it's the work of liars and forgers. Bible Prophecy did not come from ancient texts or those who could interpret the words of ancient texts. "The Abomination of Desolation" in Daniel actually refers to the Selucid King Antiochus Epiphanes, who plundered the Jewish Temple and sacrificed an unclean swine to the Greek God Zeus in 170 BC. This is historical fact agreed upon by most reliable historians and Biblical scholars. The ignorant clergy turned it into biblical prophecy: "But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, let him that readeth understand, then let them that be in Judea flee to the mountains" (Mark 13:14). There isn't a single word contained in the Sermon on the Mount that isn't contained in what is called the Sacred Book of the Jews, long before Jesus lived. According to the scriptures: Jesus said, "Resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." That is not a new axiom or a new principle. It came from Lao-Tse and Buddha some 500 or 600 years before Christ. The whole concept of a God is a derivative of the ancient oriental despotism. Lao-Tse, a contemporary of Confucius in China, founded Taoism. Among his best known sayings are to "love thy neighbor" and "turn the other cheek."

Scholars have managed to locate many of the tablets that contain the ancient biblical accounts from which the Torah, the Old Testament, and the Haggadah (the wellspring of Jewish oral tradition) originate. These tablets describe the origin of man in a similar way to the Old Testament and Torah (as do other Middle Eastern, Chinese, and many other secular ancient sources) but are much more clear when it comes to the story of the first man. The name for God in the Old Testament in ancient Hebrew is "Elohim", a borrowed Semitic term deriving from ancient Sumerian, that is commonly translated as God, but this is inaccurate, "Elohim" is plural meaning Gods in that translation. However, that's not accurate itself, as "Elohim" in its most accurate translation means Loft Ones, not Gods. Ancient Egypt and the Bible: The dictionary will also confirm that the word Bible is of an Egyptian origin. The Bible, or book, was derived from byblos, which is the Egyptian hieratic word for papyrus. In the three religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, whenever the faithful pray, regardless of language, they always end their prayer by saying Amen. There is no linguistic translation for Amen, because it is a name and not a word. The origin of Amen is Egyptian, for Amen was the name of God. The name of Amen, which means the Hidden One, in Ancient Egypt, lives on. The spheres of angels and archangels in Christianity are strikingly similar to Ancient Egypt's heirachy of neteru (gods/goddesses). The Song of Moses in Deuteronomy (32:43), as found in a cave at Qumran near the Dead Sea, mentions the word gods in the plural: "Rejoice, O heavens, with him; and do obeisance to him, ye gods." When the passage is quoted in the New Testament (Hebrews, 1:6), the word gods is substituted with angels of God. As such, the neteru who were called gods by some, were endorsed and incorporated into Christianity under a new name, angels. Daily life activities are portrayed, on the walls of the Ancient Egyptian tombs, in the presence of the neteru (gods/goddesses) or with the assistance of the neteru. The typical Egyptian sowing and reaping scene is symbolically similar to the Bible's "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

The thirty chapters of the Teaching of Amenemope (Amenhotep III) contain many wisdom texts that were later adopted in the Old Testament's Book of Proverbs. Numerous verbal parallels occur between this Egyptian text and the Bible. The well-known Ancient Egyptian illustration showing Khnum, the Divine Potter, at his potter's wheel, fashioning men from clay, was echoed thousands of years later in Isaiah, 64:8: Yet, O Lord, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou art our potter; we are all the work of thy hand.

The late ABC News anchor Peter Jennings was in Israel broadcasting a television special on Jesus Christ. His program, "The Search for Jesus," explored the question of whether the Jesus of the New Testament was historically accurate. Jennings featured opinions on the Gospel accounts from DePaul professor John Dominic Crossan, three of Crossan's colleagues from the Jesus Seminar, and two other Bible scholars. On national TV Dr. Crossan not only cast doubt on more than 80 percent of Jesus' sayings but also denied the claims of a divine Jesus, his miracles, and his resurrection. Jennings's report did focus on one issue that ought to be given some serious thought. Crossan implied that the original accounts of Jesus were (embellished by oral tradition) and were not written down until after the apostles were dead. Thus they are largely unreliable and fail to give us an accurate picture of the real Jesus. How are we to know if this is really true? It is a shame that many scholars are so intimidated that they can not collaborate in unbiased research that is oriented toward, scholarly research on the many theories about the authenticity of the Bible. No other subject would be treated as fact without one shred of proof. Many things in the Bible have been proven to have no historic, archaeological, or scientific proof to back it up. (Too numerous to include.)

In contrast biologists do not have to believe that there are transitional fossils; we can examine them in hundreds of museums around the world, and we make new discoveries in the rocks all the time. Scientists do not have to believe that the solar system is 4.5 billion years old; we can test the age of the Earth, Moon, and meteoric rocks very accurately. We do not have to believe that protocells can be easily created from simple chemicals in the laboratory; we can repeat the experiments with comparable results. We can also create artificial species of plants and animals by applying selection, and we can observe natural speciation in action. That is the big difference between science and religion. Science exists because of the evidence, whereas religion exists upon faith and, in the case of religious fundamentalism and creationism, in spite of the evidence.

The "Big Bang" Theory - The Cosmic Microwave Background is incontrovertible evidence that the Universe experienced a "Big Bang." Something is proven to be a fact by confirming the information that has been given on that subject from a variety of sources. In science a "theory" does not become a "theory" until it has been tested for every possible way it could fail. The reason it is not called a fact is that science will still try to come up with a better theory, or continue to improve on the theory. That is exactly what has happened with evolution - the theory is stronger today than it was when it was introduce. There has to be some validity to hypothesis for scientists to take them seriously. Faith and science have nothing in common. People can have faith and belief in things that have no basis in fact or reality.

That is not what has happened with religion particularly Christianity. Evangelist do not suggest that anyone test the validity or truth of the scriptures. What else do you believe on faith alone?

There is a lot in what you say about being supported and accepted as long as you profess a religious belief; that's why so many people are believers. The "fold" can't accept or tolerate people with opposing viewpoints because they have so little in the way of facts that support their claims. I'm sure theologians who have spent their life studying Christianity would find it hard to say we've been wrong. But one of them did. Jean Meslier was a priest who came from a background of poverty. He was highly moral. He became ill and died. After his death they found in his house three manuscripts, each containing three hundred and sixty-six pages, all written by his hand, signed and entitled by him, "My Testament." This work, which the author addressed to his parishioners and to M. Leroux, advocate and procurator for the parliament of Meziers, is a simple refutation of all the religious dogmas, without excepting one. The grand vicar of Rheims retained one of the three copies; another was sent to Monsieur Chauvelin, guardian of the State's seal; the third remained at the clerk's office of the justiciary of St. Minehould. The Count de Caylus had one of those three copies in his possession for some time, and soon afterward more than one hundred were at Paris, sold at ten Louis-d'or apiece. A dying priest accusing himself of having professed and taught the Christian religion made a deeper impression upon the mind than the "Thoughts of Pascal."

Religion is a way to control the mind of man, and that's beneficial to governments and the clergy. That is why this fanaticism is lingering still, and has nothing to do with god, believe me.

Shorti Mom said,"..some days there are so many Christians giving me that (I am concerned about your soul- look), I back down and say I am confused or that I think too much."

It is always hard to be the minority and "go against the group," but I look at it this way-if they were ever really your friends to begin with, they will love/support you despite your different beliefs. Also, it is a test as to whether or not they are obeying Christ's command to "love their enemies." Real friends don't expect you to compromise who you are in exchange for friendship.

I think Linda has given a pretty good synopsis of the fallacious aspects of the bible/Jesus story. Good luck in deciding which path to choose.

Emily - QUOTE - "Also, it is a test as to whether or not they are obeying Christ's command to "love their enemies."

Only the narrow-minded bigots with the awareness of a slug would think that all people must believe as they do are they are the enemy!

Most people who fall into a swamp want to climb out; it really doesn't matter how you got in there, you still want out. But don't count on signing up for a religion helping you elevate yourself. You've only traded one swamp for another.

Fundamentalists don't believe in Evolution or the Big Bang, but there are religions that do not require not believing in well-founded scientific theories to belong. However, plenty of them will often resort to vicious personal attacks when someone rejects their religious beliefs. They really don't befriend those who don't want to conform to their requirements. If people don't believe that's their choosing and their right. People's personal beliefs should be personal. Everyone should live their life the way they want to live it without bothering other people.

If people feel they owe a ministry because they helped them then they are just doing their duty by joining them. Only something done without obligation is chosen. Is the ministry helping people out of benevolence or to get them to turn their mind over to them because they helped them? It's all about forcing their religion on others. If a good deed is being done in order to gain something through obligation then it is not charity.

If something is good there is no need to threaten people to get them to join. Most people support things that are truly good (very few are.) Don't be concerned about your soul it is not the problem (as if this fakery could actually save anyone's soul.) Indoctrination, membership and control are the true issues. The concern is about their interests. There is a decline in believers, and a decline in profits. That's why all of those huge fanatic domes are being supported by "faith based initiative," and at the same time we are bailing out failed financial institutions because of fakery and fraud.

Every religion is a cult, and is defined as a cult. As long as the followers agree and believe in everything they are told on faith there is no problem, but if they begin to think for themselves they become a threat. Also, the reality is that they will drop you if you express strongly enough that your mind doesn't belong to them. And that you want to find the answers for yourself outside of their teachings. The only reward is that you can call your life your own. You can start thinking instead of just believing.

A friend doesn't require you to give them your mind in exchange for their acceptance. It makes me angry when people approach me in an extremely neighborly and sincere manner in order to proselytize and nothing else. As soon as, they understand what my stance is they become vehemently, murderously, vicious beyond belief. That's a pretty good lesson right there as far as what it's all about. It reminds me of a door to door sales person with the set spiel and pleasing manner, when they are trying to sell something or get a donation, but telling them no brings out the truly nasty person that they really are.

The only friends worth having are those people who accept you for who you really are. The requirement that you agree with someone else's beliefs in order to find favor suggests control. Friends don't tell friends what to think.

Hello Linda,

First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to write so much information I was unaware of. Most likely, my knowledge in this area is greatly limited due to the fact that I have no idea where you have found this important material. I am sure you have dedicated hours of research to locate discrepancies and contradicting statements. I am curious to know where to locate information like the material you have stated in your message. Please do no think that I do not trust what you have to say, I would love the opportunity to read some ancient writings for myself. Though I do not find myself as intellectual or smart, with time, maybe I can make some kind of sense of everything I read. Even after reading large chunks of the bible, the many names, events, and dates start to form a literary haze.

A few years ago, I went on a mission trip to a foreign country. It was here where I started questioning my faith. When I returned to the states, I attended a church in the city I had just moved to. After private meetings with the pastor had given me no more answers or hope to believe, I officially called myself agnostic/atheist. But for these three years, I only discussed my personal beliefs with my husband,best friend, and grandmothers. Basically, everyone else in the whole family assumed, or thought I still was a devout,whole hearted Christian.

On Thanksgiving, I went to eat with my family and the whole trip was very pleasant. The majority of my family are Christians, except for my father and brother who have recently "seen the light" in favor of agnosticsm/atheism. When my dad and sibling left, I was left alone to visit with one of my aunts. After her mentioning church over and over again, I finally told her that me and my family (husband, son) would not be attending since we do not adhere to any particular religious beliefs. Her face turned gray as if she was going to be sick.

This family member is a new addition, marrying in to it 3 years ago- just about when I made the change. So for three years, she treated with me love, respect, kindness, generosity, and hospitality- all "Christian" principles I admire and wish to show myself. I never mentioned religion once in these three years- and then when I finally did, her demeanor and body language revealed dissappointment, concern, and frustration.

She said she would pray for me. Just like my grandmothers, mother (who has never ever been religious and is a major clepto), and best friends I have known my entire life. They are concerned about me- they say, but they still love me. I am offended by their actions, though I know I shouldn't be. After all, they truly believe I am going to burn for eternity so that is what their faith encourages them to do- pray for the unbelievers. Should I just say thank you when they say this? Or should I say, you know what, there is no point- because prayer doesnt work and I am afraid that after you pray for 10 years and I don't change my mind, that you might start doubting your faith. AND THEN- I am the "one" who inspired all the friends and family to become heretics, great, just great.

The point of all this rambling I guess is to express my desire to be accepted amongst the people have been there for me my entire life. My husband and I share the same viewpoints and want to raise our children with no religious pressures. We will provide them information on all fronts and let them choose what to believe. But this is unacceptable to them.

Emily, youre exactly right. Friends and family should love someone despite personal beliefs. If I had never said anything or plain lied, everything would still be peachy. It shouldnt be like this though. People have the right to be honest and not judged.

I want to apologize if I sound whiney in this message. My complaints stem from sadness I have been experiencing for months. Thank you for reading this far if you have.

I think that a lot of people don't make the connections with they find in ancient history and what they are told about the bible. The information is not in one book or in one place, but it is considered valid by most scholars of any repute (not apologists.) In order to prove something is true you have to first prove its validity. If a scholar cannot provide proof of what they claim it is not considered valid because the burden of proof rests on those making claims. No one has proven that the scriptures are the word of God. The validity of miracles, the bible, or the existence of any deity has not been proven. I gave references to the facts and studies done on the subject. Religious leaders tell you that all you need to do is just believe what you are told by them about everything. Therefore, there is no need for any further investigation. Many people let their favorite evangelist tell them what the bible says and means, and some people don't even read the bible. They are told not to question what they are told about religion; just believe it. Most people are told from birth that it is the "truth," but looking for the truth of anything is not memorization of data and reading only the favorable material. While memorization is emphasized in religion, critical thinking is discouraged. We are not empty vessels just waiting to be filled up; we have a brain and we can use it. An assumption is not proof; apply what you already know, and then what you can find out from other sources before deciding what is true. Something is proven to be a fact by confirming the information that has been given on that subject from a variety of sources. There are many facts or concepts on any subject, which is why people read more than one book before they decide what is true. The fact that some people want us to believe things on "faith alone" is suspicious. I think it is a little disingenuous to say I have the "truth," but I have done no real research to prove that it is true. The Christians and all religions are made followers of authoritative flamboyant preachers. It is not education it is indoctrination with no accountability. Any facts that conflict with their dogma are rejected. There are plenty of organizations that are protecting their own interests, and they really don't want people around who ask questions. And there are people who really are afraid to face the truth; it's just not possible for some of these arrogant, ignorant, fanatics to change their worldview.

No one knows who actually wrote the 66 books that were eventually canonized to make the bible. (Many myths were not included.) The names associated with the books in the bible mythologies are not the individuals who wrote them. Much of the bible is anonymous or forgeries. Libraries that have been discovered as part of archaeological exploration make it possible for us to study ancient cultures. These ancient scrolls/ manuscripts are what actually make up the Bible. The Bible is made up of picked and chosen works from many different sources. However, some books mentioned in the bible are not in the bible. It is helpful to interpret the actions of those who decided what we needed to know in order to helps us to understand what life is really all about.

One of the great conundrums to Biblical research has been the nagging lack of independent contemporary documentation making any reference whatsoever to a nascent Galilean religion. The real support to this case of vacant references to early Christianity is to be found in the strange silence that surrounds researches into the famous Dead Sea Scrolls; leather, parchment and metal scrolls written in Hebrew which have been unearthed in the hundreds, often complete and in excellent condition. The records of religious events, important commentaries and chronicles by a sect of Essene scribes and scholars writing in Judea for a hundred years up to 70 A.D. And nowhere is mention made of a new religion, a Messiah, a worker of miracles, a preaching to multitudes, a trial and crucifixion, nothing, and this silence is a great embarrassment to Biblical scholars and is treated extremely cautiously by the Biblical academic community.

Under the Emperor Constantine the bible was shaped around AD 325. The violent and powerful forces, which only wanted to gain territory and wealth, committed genocide and cultural eradication in their missionary enthusiasm. Few ancient religious writings have survived their assaults. In many cases every trace of the society's religious writings, practices, and even buildings were destroyed. The purpose of these crusades was to replace their religion with the conqueror's religion, because their religious customs were labeled as heresies. For instance the Essenes living around the Dead Sea. They left the Dead Sea Scrolls found in 1947-48 and 60's. The Essenes hid their library because they knew that if they were attacked they would be killed off and their writings burned. The Essenes were not "early Christians," as they are often described. They were victims of the Roman Empire. Christianity was a concoction of the Roman Empire, under the Emperor Constantine, who blended the Christian Church with the institutionalized "pagan" practices of Rome and eliminated any semblance of the teachings of any other relgion.

Southern Mesopotamia is known as the cradle of civilization. The development and central ideas of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam can be found in ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Israel, Persia, and Greece. This is where the early development of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam start. In the beginning of Constantine's rule the biggest question was whether or not the empire would worship both the Hindu Krishna and the Druidic Hesus or should they unite them into one God. Constantine started a campaign to accept both Gods. This idea failed and became so hostile that Constantine called the leading Bishops of the sects to meet in the Council at Nicea to deliberate this matter. The Council of Nicea met in what is today Turkey in 325 A.D. Only 300 Bishops supported Constantine's dim-witted scheme and Constantine became enraged. So great was the opposition of Bishop Arius and 1,500 supporters that Constantine was forced to call on his Roman guards to restore order. Roman guards excommunicated Arius and the dissenters, and they were taken from the Holy Chamber and sent into exile by the edict of Constantine. After Arius and his 1,500 supporters had been driven and expelled from the Council of Nicea, Constantine's nasty little scheme was presented to the 300 Bishops who unanimously approved it. The 300 Bishops who finally voted "to unite the names of the two chief Gods were a set of illiterate men who understood nothing significant. Also, these ignorant men were afraid they would be accused of being heretics. Their votes decided that the world would accept and receive the name of the new god who would lead the New Religious System known as "Christianity." This is when they came up with name "Jesus Christ" who became the redeemer of the whole world who died on the cross for everyone's sins. The birth date of Jesus was agreed on by the Bishops who attended the Nicean Conference in 332 A.D. because it commemorated the birth of the Sun God (the original Deity, Amun-Ra), thousands of years before Jesus the Christ. Constantine decreed Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire in 333 A.D. This started the systematic purge of any and all competing religious systems. As such, the original Trinity of Ausar, Aset and Heru (renamed Osiris, Isis and Horus by the Greeks) which existed before circa 4,100 years, and was replaced with a Christian religious Trinity consisting of The Father, Son And Holy Ghost. Emperor Constantine's legacy is that under his imperial religious supremacy, Rome functioned as the most potent outpost of religious tyranny; he decreed Christianity as the supreme religion.

Christianity is and always has been a political instrument. All Christianity was ever about (from the beginning with the Romans) was a way to acquire political power and control over the people. It has always been a political tool to for global expansion, imperialism, and enslavement.

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