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Questions for Theists by Apetivist

My Plans Going Forward by Apetivist

My Plans Going Forward
By Apetivist
06/18/2020


I think I owe a bigger picture to my friends and followers and even my naysayers why I am no longer active on Twitter or other social media with exception to private messages (DM's) and personal email correspondence. We all have challenges in life and in that respect, I do not think my situation all that different from other people’s whether they be theists, atheists, or deists. I am okay with disagreements and I never thought I would ever find a field where everyone agreed upon any topic especially subjects like philosophy, religion, or politics. My hiatus is based on 3 primary reasons (listed below) and I wish to explain that certain portions of these reasons overlap in some areas and in other areas they do not. As usual, things should be prefaced with attention to nuance. I will try my best to do so here.


Reason No. 1: My Medical and Mental Health


For almost 2 decades I have suffered from ongoing pain and it only grew more intense over time. I used to be a highly active martial artist and a busy worker. I will not bore you with much detail as to the various jobs I have held in the past although I will say that most of them were physically demanding. I came from the tough guys club that perpetuated the myth that tough guys do not complain. I valued my toughness as it helped me survive both military combat and struggles in the civilian world. It shielded me from the emotional pain I experienced growing up and the for 17+ years kept me from admitting to anyone that I suffered from PTSD.

This ignoring, shrugging off, and minimizing of my pains and struggles eventually caught up with me. The only time I had been to a hospital was when I broke a bone or caught pneumonia. Otherwise, I did not even take Tylenol. My wife can attest to this fact. I thought I could control everything through the power of my focused mind. I was quite wrong for unknown to me I had been showing long-term signs of a complication-laden neurological disease. By late 2009 I lost my ability to walk and even to think very well at all as the pain was overwhelming. Even using a wheelchair was hard for me. In a short period of time and by the early part of 2010 I had become bedbound. This ended up costing us almost everything. For your information, we do not have children. Our home, our livelihood/income, and more. This led us to nearly being homeless until we found through the help of a friend a tiny duplex far from the city we lived in at the time and out to an isolated country town. We owned no personal transportation, completely dependent on people within our proximity we did not even know. We remained there for 7 years! During the first year, I developed a serious psychological response to my intense pain and became quite disconnected from reality. I heard voices and had intense visions and dreams of the most frightening things. It was a combination of my brain dealing with the pain and my untreated PTSD flooding to the surface.

However, with the next few years, I was back on track attending therapy and receiving great medical care from the VA Hospital System. I was back to clearer thinking. In time, after many run-ins with Christians telling me I was being punished for being an apostate I had enough of the disrespect and lack of empathy and began to learn even more to counter their rhetoric. I also within this time jumped from being a Libertarian to a Progressive. My heart became softer and my thoughts clearer as I corresponded with many that were in a far better place intellectually and academically. I was physically disabled yet thanks to the VA physicians and psychiatrists I was able to reclaim my mind.

The result by late 2012 and early 2013 was me becoming an activist and eventually adopted the pen name, Apetivist. The pen name was to avoid both family and deeply personal matters of my past. My goal has not ever been to bring pain or harm to any person. My goal has been to try to assist in some way with helping others either challenge their preconceived ideas or beliefs, to challenge themselves morally and compassionately to be better people, and to engage others in thinking about learning something new every day. I admit in the process many I encountered along the way helped me do the same things.

All was going somewhat well until 2018 I began developing even more medical problems. This on top of dealing with other pressures in my life became quite difficult to adequately attend to. Once again, the VA Hospital came to my rescue and this time I became deeply involved in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Chronic Pain Management, Stress Management, etc. I also attended Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). I completed the courses, even when just going (picked up by a van that transferred me there via wheelchair) there was a painful ordeal. I thought I had regained myself again and then my physical pain became worse despite my best efforts to manage it. I asked my doctors to not place me on any medications that would interfere with my ability to think as that is the one thing I have going for me aside from my emotional capacity to love and care for others. They agreed and although I tried to keep being the Apetivist that most people knew, or some had a level of respect for; I eventually began to unravel. I decided that this was a time to step back and breathe. I tried to restart several times afterward as I got lonely and tried to step in again but each time being unsuccessful as the last attempt. This brings me to Reason No. 2.

Reason No. 2: Trumpian Hellishness and Familial Stressors

Then came the Trumpian crises repeatedly in rapid succession and most of my own family being avid supporters I just couldn’t take them doing so and I doubt they will ever walk away from him so I walked away from them. I had tried to be as patient as possible yet there is a time when we all must know when to jettison toxic or stubbornly ignorant people from our lives. It is not like I had not tried to reach them, yet my patience had worn thin and I just could no longer in good conscience deal with people that rallied behind a racist demagogue. They were always rather ignorant, politically speaking. They resisted any attempt to discuss the toxicity of the man and the GOP which finally became what they envisioned and prayed for, a person that would thrust people like them from relative obscurity to some promise of a theocratically privileged position above others. I could no longer deal with people backing him whether they be family, friends, or casual acquaintances. I did not make this choice lightly. This is not a result of my medical condition or psychological challenges either. It became a crisis of my moral conscience.

I really lost some occasional support from my older sisters yet the remaining were never interested in my life and rarely would I hear from them unless they had a medical crisis and I had long been treated as that strange outsider aka atheist and odd intellectual that they could never relate to. On the other hand, they made my life exceedingly difficult seeing the way they raised their children in haphazard ways and in disregard of their educational welfare. I am not poor shaming them. No, as I was never financially well-off as even when I was most financially stable, I was often giving away money to help family and friends and almost as fast as I could make it. I just felt that every chance they could get ahead they kept falling to the same patterns and unfortunately, they never seemed to want or welcome other’s thoughts on how to curtail such issues; they seemed only to want financial help.

This bears heavy and once I could no longer be there to catch them I watched with sadness to see them devolve even further and once the Trump Train “came to town” they all jumped aboard and not looking back thought he was some messiah that would release them from their troubles. I warned them he was the opposite but to no avail and worse, the Backfire Effect entered in the equation and stymied my efforts to reach them at all. Eric Hoffer wrote extensively on this phenomenon in his book The True Believers: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (1951). I do not imagine they will come to their senses at this point and even if they ever do I don’t want to be around to see the mayhem they have caused to themselves, to their children, and to the public’s general welfare.

As you may see this has added a great deal of dismay to my life but in defense of myself and my wife I can no longer allow for myself to actively care for those that seem to have zero awareness or concern of the consequences of their actions. This is defensive on my part and to be honest, the moment I made them aware of this decision a great weight lifted off my shoulders. This brings me to Reason No. 3.

Reason No. 3: Impassioned Writers Write, If They Can, or They End Up Regretting It.

Over a decade I have amassed a lot of experience through reading and discussions, and have done a lot of writing on the subjects that are so dear to my mind and moral center. I deliberated as to what I should do. I did the social media thing as far as I could take it and I do not regret that at all. I have learned and will continue to learn so much from the people I met there. Many who have become my dearest friends. I stay in DM's and available as I can get to it in email correspondence. I hope to continue to do so. I promise my friends that I will never deliberately lose touch with you. I love you and at this point, I am sure you know who you all are if you are reading this.

I have always wanted to write for posterity sake, as a possible source of additional income for my wife once I leave this finite existence of being “me’, and as a way of sealing in memoriam that I was indeed here at one point in history and to whatever effect that maybe is beyond my control with the exception that I feel compelled to write it all out. I once said that on Twitter I suffered from what I call “Repeaticitis”, the frustration one gets from saying the same things toward the same sort of arguments repeatedly. I can see why some prefer making YouTube videos as opposed to being in the trenches on social media. For those that can do both, my hat is off to you. I imagine if I were coming to all this from a more favorable medical and mental health situation, I would possibly be able to do similarly. Yet, it is good to know one’s limitations as it narrows what is most probable if you have a desire to achieve some feasible goal.
Therefore, I have planned to release a 5-book series released under my pen name, Apetivist. All at the same time. I wish to do so as I want each book to overlap the others and for each book to be available all at the same time and to not have some delay in between the publications. I have a simple title for each book. On Atheism, On Critical Thinking, On Logic, On Philosophy and Science, and On Humanism. I may if I can arrange a post-mortem book to be released long after mine and my own wife’s death detailing our own personal story.

In Conclusion:

Okay, that is about it with just a little bit more for me to say. This is not meant to writer block shame as we all reach plateaus if you are a writer it might be a fresh occasion on adopting a different way of viewing the subject we are writing about. Writers write like Runners run. If you are a writer or aspiring to be one do not fall for making excuses as that can be a nasty habit to break) unless they are legitimate reasons such as those that are medical or psychological in nature. It is okay to take some time off, but to take too long off will cause your acquired skill to diminish. Yes, you read that correctly, writing is an acquired skill. “Natural born writers” do not exist. There are only “practiced writers” who have developed themselves through the force of discipline, interest, and desire. To diminish these skills even if slightly you will always be playing catch up. I should know as that is what I am doing. Playing catch up, do not be like me in this respect. I know I may sound like a hypocrite; yet if I am one, at least I speak as an experienced one that regrets falling to the side as a writer. I used to habitually write even back in my old martial arts days. I have never claimed to be a particularly good writer. However, I always wanted to communicate in an effective way what I had acquired through my dedication to that field. As it was then so is it now. My suggestion is to write, if you can, even if it is a few pages a day and even if it is only on a random subject or thought. You might be surprised where that may lead you. If anything, it keeps your skills from growing dull.

Keep in touch if you can my dear friends. I will do the same when I can.

Sincerely,
Apetivist

P.S.- I will occasionally post other’s work on Twitter and on this website, but none of my own. Not until I publish my book series. Additionally, I will not reply to the public side of Twitter. DM me on Twitter if you wish to communicate with me or email me at apetivist@gmail.com. Thank you.



Questions for Theists by Apetivist


Questions for Theists by Apetivist









Original Post: 02/02/2020
Revised Version: 05/04/2020


Preface:
Hello to all. You can call me "Ape" (It is okay, I do not mind as I happen to be one.) I hope you get something useful from my website. I will explain more about myself below too so you can better understand where I'm coming from. Now onto the purpose of this site.

First, let us get this basic Q & A stuff resolved before we continue:
Q. Do I mean to attack believers?
A. No, I am only addressing beliefs not the people who hold them.

Q. Do I think I am more intelligent than believers? 
A. No, making a case for my or a reader's intelligence is not the point for my website. Intelligence is rather evenly spread throughout groups of people. There are no peer-reviewed scientific studies that indicate intelligence being a factor that is sufficient to make any difference between believers or unbelievers. We must be careful and kind to not make snap judgments on the intelligence of others based upon a belief or absence of belief. I will make another post regarding this subject later.

Q. Do I hate believers?
A. No, I was once a believer, and I have many in my present life whom I dearly love. I don't like certain personality types or perhaps specific people, but that is due to their behaviors and not due to professed belief or absence of belief (unless such beliefs encourage violence or the marginalization of others through bigotry or force of law). Regarding these types of people, I admit I feel disgusted, but would not go so far and call it to hate. In a way, I pity them more than anything as they are missing out on the joys of diversity and understanding people personally as they are and that goes beyond labels.

Q. Do I hate any deities?
A. No, it is hard to hate what you do not believe exists. Do you hate Leprechauns or Bigfoot? That is the way I see this question as it is framed toward atheists. If one or many deities existed, it would not have any bearing on my points, as I will point out later in the site.

Q. Do I have a personal ax to grind?
A. To be honest?  Yes, I do. I think it’s unfair to indoctrinate children before they’re experienced and informed enough to come from a background of education and understanding to know what if any evidence supports the claims and whether they have good enough reasons to accept them.

Q. Do I have questions to ask for believers about their beliefs?
A. Yes, I do. More than this page is soon to follow!

Q. Do I wish for everyone to leave their belief?
A. Not always, depending on the faith and how it manifests I take little issue at all with people holding to faith if it isn’t an inflexible Literalist faith reflecting negativity towards people that believe differently or that promotes violence, hatred, and marginalization either by personal or collective behavior either by dogma and/or by force of law.

Q. Do I wish for some believers to become less literal in their beliefs and become more flexible and open-minded about life?
A. Yes! I think this is the goal of many liberal or moderate believers too.

Q. Do I wish for some believers (as well as other unbelievers) to become less judgmental of others?
A. Yes. We are all in the same boat together. Unless we interact kindly and treat each other with a reasonable measure of respect we are just making life worse for ourselves and others.

Q. Do I hope to show why all believers can accept the efficiency, effectiveness, and findings of the scientific method?
A. Yes. In fact, many religious people see the value in Science and do not reject its many findings.

Q. Do I wish believers to have a more mature understanding of Philosophy?
A. Yes. If anything, it will help them understand their beliefs even better and whether their beliefs stand up to logic or examination from various perspectives.


Okay, here we go.

About me:

As a former believer and minister (I deconverted 31 years ago as of 2020) of the Southern Baptist flavor of Christianity, I became interested in Philosophy that was primarily introduced to me through studies in Theology and Christian Apologetics. This led me to the basic principles of Critical Thinking (by accident, of course, and I found myself startled that this concept was so foreign to me as I incorrectly thought that thinking about the important stuff was "critical thinking") and as a by-product of applying Critical Thinking toward the claims of my Christian faith I came to realize (through a great amount of research, as well) that they were no longer tenable.

This was not a happy discovery! I became incredibly sad as it resulted in me leaving not just the belief but also the ministry and church members I cared for. They did not meet my deconversion with understanding or open arms at all. I was callously rejected by many close friends and even some family members. Yet eventually this all led to even greater happiness and fulfillment in my life (by saying this I am not saying the same results happen for other people). As a result of my deconversion, I understood that I should try my best to apply critical thinking and skepticism about important claims and not accept anything based on faith, Appeals from Authority, or Appeals to Emotion.

Note that to do this took a lot of practice and sometimes I failed in (and at times still do) in doing so and did get caught up in some odd beliefs that were popular at the time (Ancient Aliens anyone?). We must remain vigilant. It is a process and I admit I was not even nominally good at it until around 2013 due to attentively listening to the thoughts and ideas as expounded by greater thinkers than myself. Great thanks to Matt Dillahunty, Aron Ra, Tracie Harris, Seth Andrews, Dr. Richard Dawkins, Dr. Hector Avalos, Dr. Richard Carrier, and especially through direct communication with John W. Loftus and David Madison, Ph.D. True, I'm a self-designated Agnostic Atheist, however, I am even more so a Humanist. People who personally know me can attest that I care for others, no matter their beliefs. I admit we can all be correct or incorrect in our views and beliefs upon a multitude of different subjects. As a result of becoming more deeply involved in Humanism, I sincerely wish that we all could live in a more peaceful and caring society.

In Regards to Religious Beliefs:

Religion permeates much of the world and has done so for possibly 400,000 years ago up to 40,000 years ago and comes in thousands of forms, many that are lost to prehistory and history. Depending on where you live you may see one religion more prolific than another. Have you ever asked why this is the case?

Here are some basic questions popularized by author John W. Loftus known as The Outsider Test for Faith. I will use the acronym OTF throughout to abbreviate the term as also used by John W. Loftus. This is a brief summation of OTF, yet I highly suggest reading Loftus' entire book for greater details and nuance.

Ask yourself, "Why are religions predominately popular based upon geographic locations?"
In North America, you will find Christianity as the predominant religion, in Saudi Arabia it's Islam, in India, it's Hinduism, etc. Please make note that there is no such thing as a belief being wholly monolithic among people within the above-mentioned religions, but many variations of the religions that we can call subsets. With all this in mind ask yourself, “How can people know with reasonable certainty they are born into or talked into the "one true religion"?”

Are we all fated by an accident of birth to make our way through life? All the while there is only "one true religion" that is indicative of a Creator's or Creators' plan for us and must we search through the pages of every religious book to make sure we are in the "one true religion"?

If we hear or see this "one true religion" how can we distinguish it from other "false religions"? What method do we use to make this determination? If you are a believer in any god or gods or subscribe to any religious views have you ever asked yourself these questions? If not, please ask yourself, “Why is this the case?"

Now ask yourself, "Why is there religious diversity at all?" If there were one true Creator or Creators, then would not there be only one religion? Wouldn't a responsible Creator or Creators make sure that everyone understood this divine plan? Why do religions blame humans for a poorly designed plan that does not do what a Creator or Creators intended it to do? If the plan is that all people be saved, then why aren't all people saved?

Divine Plans Collapse:


If a bridge collapses, do bridge designers blame the pedestrians that walk on the bridge? Shouldn't the blame, if there be any, be hoisted upon the designers of the bridge itself?  Especially if the result of the failure was a poor job of engineering? Many legal experts would reply with a big, "Yes!"  If this is the case, ask yourself, "Why is it that Divine Creator’s or Creators, that supposedly have knowledge and abilities far beyond humans are not being held responsible for their designs or plans for failing?"  Ironically, many religious people will talk all about the value of personal responsibility but will excuse their Creator or Creators from taking personal responsibility for the lack of insight. Why the *double standard?

*Humans doing something irresponsible equals bad and perhaps deserves some punishment. A god or gods do something irresponsible equals them being given excuses or a pass from theists.  There are professional apologists (defenders of a belief) that exist solely for this purpose.

Dear reader, I wish to expose you to various thoughts and ideas that may aid in answering these questions and many others that I have planned for this website. If you think you have the "one true religion" or the proper relationship with the one true Creator or Creators of the Universe, then you should not feel challenged at all by these and upcoming questions. Correct?

Please, read on and subscribe to the blog to get new posts if you wish. Please leave comments below yet also be civil as uncivil comments will be deleted. Feel free to email me at apetivist@gmail.com or DM me on Twitter at @apetivist; however, I no longer do the public side of Twitter (Also please be civil there, too).

Thank you for your readership and please understand all I'm doing is asking questions and asking you to ask questions I am doing this to not only challenge theists and their claims but also to invite others to consider how they come about any belief and how they can think about them and perhaps confirm or disconfirm them with well-reasoned answers. Please, especially with more than mundane claims, question everything!
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Attribution: Microsoft Stock Images under search using keyword “question”.  

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