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Archive for the ‘Humble Beginnings’ Category

Join the Blogroll !!!

September 1, 2009 4 comments

West Virginia Salvation has been added to The Atheist Blogroll. You can see the blogroll in my sidebar. The Atheist blogroll is a community building service provided free of charge to Atheist bloggers from around the world. If you would like to join, visit Mojoey at Deep Thoughts for more information.

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God Hates Gays

August 27, 2009 4 comments

Homosexual People

 

Part 2 of My Coffee Chat With a Methodist Preacher

I was curious what TP’s opinion of Gays in the church was and what he thought about the sudden onset of a tornado soon after the Minneapolis Luthern Church made a decision about homosexuals in the church.  I figured if he thought tornadoes were God’s wrath for Gay’s the likelihood of our finding any common ground for discussion was zilch.  

 

TP has a very interesting, if not slightly confused impression of what it means to be gay.  I called him out on some of his assumptions.  Largely he feels that homosexuality is not an abomination of God, or particularly sinful, but he frankly said that ‘it is just wrong.’  He made the comment that he has a few gay friends and their life is miserable, presumably because they are gay. 

My counter to his argument was that if a Gay person’s life is miserable it is not because of being gay, but more likely because of society’s (Society: amalgamation of the institutions of education, religious, social and political)  oppression and overt hatred of gayness.  Either this, or they are just miserable people, like any hetero person may be.

TP seemed to concede a little on this point, but did make the trite remark that not doing God’s Will ultimately creates a division between you and the Holy Spirit.  Obviously being Heterosexual is God’s Will. 

To drive my point home further, I explained to him that we see a lot of species in the wild that use homosexual pair bonding for purposes of protection, alliance formation and when there is a lack of females.  I have recently become familiar with the term ‘homosociality’ which I love.  

 

I wanted to know if he thought gay to straight conversions could be made through the Power of Christ.  He admitted that he did not know of any ‘cure’ for gay people (men or women).  But that a person has control over their actions, no matter what they feel inside.  He made a point about a relative with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  He notes that even though she is fraught with problems of spasticity and physical limitations, she does everything in her power to try and combat her illness and take therapeutic medications when available.  So, she tries not to be handicap in public…hmmm.

 

So, apparently being gay is a disease, punctuated by failure of will, ultimately leading people to unholy practices which will ultimately take them out of God’s Grace and deliver them to Hell.

 

Geez, God must really hate humans!

 

More, later.

 

Peace,

Anoat

An Atheist and a Preacher Chat over Coffee.

August 26, 2009 8 comments

Session one

 

Due to the length of time we talked and the vast, somewhat disparate spectrum of material we covered I will make several smaller posts, rather than one large post.

 

So, I met with The Pastor (TP) for the first time today.  We met at a local coffee shop in our town.  We spent over 90 minutes gently jousting most ideas back and forth and some other’s with conviction that you would expect from and Atheist and a Baptist raised Methodist Preacher.  There were moments that we chided one another’s beliefs and assumption, occasionally even laughing at each other, as well as, with one another.  But in general the meeting was congenial, expository, cursory and yet ripe with promise for future focused discussions.   And there was NO talk of Hell, Damnation, nor of my lack of baptism!  I mention this because I very plainly told him that I am an Atheist, always have been and likely will always be one. 

 

When we first met in the parking lot we said hello and shook hands.  TP apologized for being a few minutes late, mentioning that as soon as he was preparing to leave his office, ‘everybody needed something.’  I replied ‘they were probably wondering why you wanted to hang out with a heretic like me!’  He chuckled and responded ‘I didn’t tell anybody about you.’   We collectively chuckled and the tone of the meeting was now set.

 

I will start with what is probably the most contentious and obvious disagreement we had. Keep in mind, I like this guy, and I can’t wait to have another, more focused meeting. 

 

One of the take home messages that I found sort of irritating was that he iterated several times that he does not consider me an Atheist.  His impression is that I am a ‘Seeker.’  So, naturally I asked him what he meant by the term seeker.  TP seemed to confuse my desire to take an interest in learning more about the Christian faith with my true intention, which is to learn more about WHY people adhere to the Christian faith.  The fact that I am a scientist seemed to strengthen his argument.  His impression is that I am searching for ‘The Truth.’  Frankly, I am seeking answers, but I am not seeking them in archaic textbooks about heavenly deities or mortal God-men.  I am seeking answers through, at times, laborious study and repetition of outcomes.   

 

After talking with him for a while, I think I understand the Christian Mind (the sane ones at least) a little better.  For TP anyone with curiosity, virtue, good moral character, etc can only be doing God’s work.  The argument would be that the opposite actions would be inherently evil and therefore Satan’s work or more politely, separate from God.   For a non-theist like myself, I really am only doing what comes natural to me without ever once pleading with God for direction, special treatment, wisdom, safety…etc. 

 

Lastly for this post, I did ask him bluntly if he was feeling apostate toward his religion.  He smiled and we chatted a bit, but you know he never did say no…

 

Anoat

Open Invitation

August 24, 2009 6 comments

I had a very unexpected and somewhat exciting phone call the other day. It was from my Wife’s Pastor. He was calling me on my personal cell phone. He stated that he wanted to come over to the house and more or less ‘catch up and see how things are going.’ I was not in a position to have a house guest, so I countered his offer and we decided to meet this coming Wednesday, one on one, at a local coffee shop. After I hung up with The Pastor my mind was abuzz with ideas of what this meeting may imply. Am I going to be preached to? This is unlikely, given what I know about The Pastor. Was I going to be cornered by some heavy duty witnessing? Again, unlikely. So, what then would he possibly want to chat about?

The Pastor is Pastor for my in-laws, my wife and many of the people in their social, academic, occupational and personal life. The outcome of our meeting could, potentially, have far reaching consequence, both at home and in my interaction with many other people. What I have decided to do is take a very open approach to our meeting. I will be armed only with knowledge, curiosity and a pen and paper. I thought about sharing some of my recent readings (Hitchens, Harris, Gould), or maybe some of the text that I peruse on non-canonical Christian text. But, I think that my approach will be much more sponge-like, flexible and absorbent.

I will place a post-meeting post about my experience and the gist of our dialogue. Frankly I feel a little outgunned and maybe even a little out of my league. Although, I am hopeful this will be the first of many such coffee shop chats.

I would love to hear any thoughts from you all regarding similar experiences or even some help with my approach.

Anoat

Fossil Hunting

August 12, 2009 Leave a comment

Local Paleozoic Era-Mid Devonian-Early Mississippian Period (320-350 Million Years Ago) Aquatic Fossil hunting.

A Good Days Work

A Good Days Work

I as had mentioned in my Bio section, paleontology is a hobby of mine.   These are a small sample of what I was able to collect recently while searching road-cuts (Areas where mountains have been cut to make was for highways and roads) in Northern WV.   As a rule Road-cuts are an amateur paleo’s dream come true, most of the hard work of moving layers of rock and Earth have been done for you.  Mostly Brachiopods and Horn Corals
To the left here are some of my earliest ancestors.  Uncle Fred is the Horn Coral on the left (Smiling, apishly).

Unidentified Petrified Object (UPO)

Unidentified Petrified Object (UPO)

On the green shale notice the Rib-like Striae (ridges) running perpendicular to each other.  This find is either two fossils superimposed one on top the other, an early bony fish with Dorsal fin seen superiorly at 45 degree angle from body, or a partial Trilobite (Phacops rana) imprint.  Would love to hear from anyone with a knack for Marine Paleontology!

Crinoid

Crinoid

Probably my favorite find of the day.   I found this one as I pulled over to take a whizz behind some recently bulldozed rock bed. It was just lying there in a pile of detritus. This is a nicely preserved segmented aquatic plant.  There are collectively referred to as Crinoids.
So, is the Earth 4000 years old?  Are species evolving, mutating and adapting?   Any thoughts?

May I introduce you to Jesus?

August 11, 2009 1 comment

This is a post that I made recently on another Blog.  Lets Start here:

In the distant and recent past I have had long discussions with born again types whoes entire dialogue was centered around my ’search for God.’ They seemed to feel that my entire life was a quest laid out and guided by some all-mighty invisible puppeteer. I remember one such recent conversation ending with some provactive comment that ‘I am going to be her next project.’

What is your response to this line of reasoning?  How can you argue sanity when they are arguing ghost and spirits?

Quick Bio…

August 11, 2009 3 comments

I  am an Atheist, I also consider myself a weak Buddhist.  I recognize and fully accept that I live in, was raised in and will likely die in a Society, State, Town that is heavily influenced and likewise accepting of Christians, both as a peoples and as a intelligent guiding entity.  

In My Beginning:

My childhood years were family oriented, nurturing and generally pleasant.  I was the son of a scientist Father and a stay at home Mother.   Identifying with my father, as I did, I tended to gravitate toward the study science, particularly of human behavior, sociology, anthropology and later medicine.  

Both of my Parents were brought up  in very religious families in rural Pennsylvania.   My grandparents, Aunts, Uncles all Christian.  My Grandmother still goes to sleep at night while reading the Bible, she can’t remember how many time she has read it cover to cover.

My parents NEVER forced me to go to church.  When i was an early teenager my Mother was a Sunday school teacher and occasionally I would join her to help with class.  I then joined a Youth Group that met on Sunday’s prior to church services.  The class was taught by a young husband and wife duo.  They were sweet and hip.  After about 4-5 weeks I felt I was over-staying my welcome.  Turns out that I was not expected to ask a lot of questions, at least not the ones I wanted answered.  I took a few books on geology and paleontology to class one morning and suddenly my classmates would not really talk with me.  I remember one girl was very inflamed and angered by my approach and actually left class.  I didn’t go back. 

The ‘Me’ Now:

I am a thirty something, male, in a wonderful marriage, with wonderful children.   I have lived in several places and studied in many more.  My travels have taken me to some wonderful places and allowed me to interact with a sundry of cultures and individuals. 

Currently I work in medicine in a small rural clinic in West Virginia.   I work with a largely Christian patient population, my wife and in-laws are Christian.   As such, I will only post under a pseudonym.   If I were open about my name and address I would likely suffer some reprisal.   Its been my experience that people can become very spiteful and outwardly defensive about religion.