What might it look like to re-imagine faith in a post-Christian society?

What might it look like to re-imagine faith in a post-Christian society? July 14, 2019
What place is there for faith in post-Christian America?
Photo Credit: Andrew Stawarz Flickr via Compfight cc

Faith. In a post-Christian society. That’s the topic of the day.

Hello, by the way.

This is my personal introduction post. I’m only gonna do this once, so please listen up.

My name is Josh, and I’m the pastor of a United Church of Christ congregation in southern Ohio. This is strange to me, because I used to be thoroughly convinced that institutional Christianity, including the modern pastoral office, was everything that is wrong with the Church. In some ways, I still kind of am. 

Yet here I am, a pastor in southern Ohio. It’s rural down here, too. As Hank Williams, Jr. says, “We say grace, we say amen, and if you ‘aint into that, we don’t give a damn.”

At least that’s the way it’s always been. And still is for the most part. Yet things are changing, too. I like to keep my ear to the ground on cultural shifts, and I can say with confidence that the initial waves of post-Christian America are beginning to hit the shores of Central Appalachia. What started in Europe and then spread to the progressive, urban centers of the West is now making its way through the cornfields and up the hollers of rural America. 

People are leaving the churches. In droves. Some of those folks are looking for alternative forms of gathering, but many of them are giving up on faith altogether. The number of “nones” and “dones” is growing every year. “Spiritual, but not religious”–that’s their mantra. Some of them still “love Jesus, but not the church.” However you want to frame it, the cultural landscape is changing.   

Evidence of this cultural shift is all around. The church I’m currently serving has reached a point where it’s time to either innovate or go the way of the dinosaurs. Forty years ago they had to bring in extra chairs to accommodate people in a sanctuary that seated 400. Now, we’re holding steady at twenty. Declining membership and finances have forced the church to a point of decision: Either give up and go home, or change. To their credit, they risked bringing me on in the hope of rebuilding. But there are no guarantees. 

According to one report, 6,000-10,000 churches are closing their doors each year in America. That’s some serious decline in a country that still largely boasts of its faith as a “Christian nation.” Of course, many folks will argue that being “Christian” has very little to do with attending an institutional church on Sundays, but that is another conversation for another day. For now, it is simply evidence to support my point.

Times are changing in America. The cultural winds have shifted and the ship is beginning to turn.

All this indicates a deeper crisis of faith. In fact, I believe we’re staring down the barrel of the end of an era, and that’s my main point here. Old paradigms are shifting. The ancient stories of faith that form the bedrock of western culture are no longer satisfying a growing number of people. As a result, many folks are now cast adrift in search of a new narrative for their lives. I see this trend among Christians and non-Christians alike. 

How do we navigate this moment of change? That’s the question I want to explore here at The Empty Pew. We’re gonna cover all kinds of topics on this blog, but that will be the main theme. I invite you to join me, then, as I re-imagine faith in a post-Christian society. 

About Josh Lawson
Josh Lawson is a pastor, writer, and small business owner. He lives in southern Ohio with his wife and kids and their cat Gryffin, which is short for Gryffindor. He loves strong coffee and good books. If you'd like, you can support his work at www.patreon.com/JoshuaLawson. You can read more about the author here.
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  • billwald

    I’ve been a Christian longer than you have been alive. dob 1940 I agree we are living in a post-Christian world.

    One of the reasons may be Christians of all denominations “proof texts” to justify dogma. The Devil is in the small words. How many people have died because of “This IS my body?”

    For me, the answer is:


  • Claudia Crowley

    1. Men’s societies (lodges) are vanishing as well. This aspect of male psychology isn’t going away; evolution doesn’t happen that fast. So where are the men going? Special interest groups online? Are gamer cons the new Shriner conventions?

    2. The urge to believe is powerful, even overwhelming. It’s going to latch onto something. What?

    3. Also, I believe that natural mystics (in the classical, Evelyn Underhill sense) occur at the same rate throughout the population no matter what the prevailing belief traditions or lack of them. Without a framework of support, how are they going to pursue their rare but genuine calling? How are SBNR mystics to know what’s going on with themselves? I can see them being used by all kinds of dubious belief systems. You have another post addressing mysticism and I’m going to go over there with the same question.

  • rationalobservations?

    The third largest and fastest growing human demographic are the godless non-religious and we outnumber the membership of any individual cult or sect of religion.

    For the example of a post christian society look no further than the UK. Only the actions of fanatical religionist terrorists keep the UK from the extreme upper levels of the annually published Global Peace Index in which the USA wallows so far down.

    If religion poisons everything, education and free secular democracy has already proved to be the antidote to that poison and the rapidly growing number of rotting empty redundant churches that litter the villages towns and cities of the developed western world are evidence that the cure.

  • Kyllein MacKellerann “

    First off, Christianity is both well and stable in the United States, so no worries about it going the way of the Do-Do bird.
    Post Christianity? We’d lose the cultural fear of Death that Christianity inoculates into people via a fear of Hell and loss of God’s grace. We’d also lose a Divine Paranoid who is claimed to run the Universe. We’d live for today, rather than some meta-physical post-mortality eternal residence. Keep in mind that Christianity has made society a bit kinder and gentler than the Roman society it replaced, but it’s also responsible for more murder than all the wars in human history.
    If Christianity went away… Mostly the only thing we’d notice would be the different symbols on top of the places of worship, and a slight reduction of “Holier-than-thou’s” in society. Otherwise, things would stay much the same: Humanity is innately conservative in nature.

  • Interesting, Kyllein. How do you come to the conclusion that Christianity is responsible for more murder than all the wars in human history?

  • Tell us how you really feel, why don’t ya? 😉

  • I’m not familiar with Evelyn Underhill. Where would you recommend one begin to familiarize themselves with her work?

  • Thanks for those thoughts, Bill. Proof-texting to justify dogma is indeed rampant throughout the Christian world.

  • Claudia Crowley

    “Practical Mysticism” covers the ground and is short and readable, but I think it sounds a little condescending. It’s on Kindle and online at Project Gutenberg. “Mysticism: A Study in Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness” has pretty much anything you want to know about the mystical journey in it. A hardcopy is best because of the footnotes and so you can write in it, but it’s available on Kindle. Paper is better for this book and worth it. It’s not something you read straight through, at least not the second and subsequent times.

  • rationalobservations?

    The evidence supported facts are without “feelings”.
    How are you feeling today?

  • Excellent. I will add them to my list.

  • Kyllein MacKellerann “

    Simple numbers, starting with the early Church “Purifications” through the Crusades, the Inquisitions, the actions in the New World – wherever some one was killed “In the Name of God (Jesus’ father) – that’s a murder committed in the name of Christianity, and there have been close to 1900 years of them. For a religion of Love, it certainly has bloody hands.
    Do I think this will continue? Call me an optimist, but there are a lot fewer “Destructions of Devils” in the 21st century than in previous times; maybe we’re rediscovering what Christ actually taught.

  • Hopefully so. Not that I want to dismiss your point about the blood that has been shed in God’s name, because God knows there’s been too much of it, but I wonder how those numbers look when compared, for instance, to authoritarian regimes of the 20th century backed by purely materialistic philosophies (e.g. Stalin, Mao, etc.).

  • Jane Ravenswood

    Josh, I’m curious, how many churches are in your county?

    One thing I’ve noted, as a former Christian, is that Christians really attack each other each sure that their version is the only right one, although none had any evidence this is so. I was familiar with this when I was growing up in western PA, with the anti-catholic nonsense.

    People are realizing that “stories of faith” are just that, stories. That happens when a religion promises magical thins happen and they don’t for a couple of thousand years. What I’ve noticed is a lot of Christians getting quite a bit more vague about their god and religion, wanting to leave the ignorance and hate in the bible behind.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    Josh, before you run down this rabbit hole, consider this: the leaders of those authoritarian regimes were megalomaniacs. Was that the cause of their actions or was it “material philosophies”? I’m an atheist with what you would probably consider a materialistic philosophy (I consider myself an Epicurean in philosophy), and I have no desire to kill anyone not trying to kill me.

  • Patrick Généreux

    Josh…thanks for your thoughts on an important matter.

    What church leadership (which includes me) long ignored and still ignores, is the plain and simple, but difficult truth, that a growing number of those who call themselves “Christians,” no longer actually believe in “God” or that there is someone out there that cares. The even more difficult truth is that it is true.

    Theologians and religious philosophers have noted for ages that we can not know the unknowable. The idea of “God” is a human construct; albeit a much needed one to keep us from doing ourselves in even more than we have. Christianity is one such construct that has made a positive impact on humanity as well as being responsible for much of the pain humanity has endured the past 1700 years or so. As we piously walk to church each week we walk over the bones (metaphorically speaking) of those who have been murdered in the name of the “Christ” with few of us even giving that a thought. “Christians” are still hard at work making life miserable for many people.

    Re-imaging faith (as I and others have written about for a long time now) means moving away from reliance on some hoped for magic from on high, to seeking to develop communities of Grace and Love that acknowledges the sacredness of all and in turn seeks the welfare and well-being of all that is on and in the earth. A reformed “Christianity” that acknowledges the metaphoric power of the “Idea of the Holy” (R. Otto) and the life and teachings (as far as we can actually know) of Rabbi Yeshua, might to do the trick. The challenge will be to change brains as well as lives. Until then the pews will continue to empty, many if not most, “Christians” will continue to do harm (knowingly and unknowingly) in the name of their “Christ,” the earth will continue to be decimated by our irresponsibility, and we will seek wealthy elite false messiahs who promise the earth but slowly suffocate us with lies and violence.

    Not a very Good News picture is it? The alarms are going off and the clock is ticking but all we can think of is how the Yankees are doing and the newest gadget we can buy. There are no magic formulas, “God” isn’t there to come and save us…it is up to us and it has always been so. As the Rabbi is said to have taught (my loose translation), “The Kingdom of Love is near to us!” The question is, what are we going to do about it?

  • Great thoughts, Patrick. Thank you for sharing.

  • There are about 150 churches in my county alone, Jane. Mostly small, country churches.

  • Good point, Jane. Logically, the same point could be made about those religious leaders who instigated the murders Kyllein described above. Are we to blame the beliefs and philosophies or the individuals themselves?

  • Jane Ravenswood

    I thought so. I grew up in a small country church. And “god forbid” the Christians there ever went to another small country church because those people weren’t “really” Christian. Now, you could save quite a bit of resources and time joining together with one building and a couple of pastors. But vanishingly few Christians will do this, and those that do, often split again (my church did this).

    I got to see that, and all of the evidence against the stories Christianity tells, and I ended up coming to the conclusion that Christianity was no different from any other religion and there are no gods at all.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    Well, Joshua, do you beleive the bible to be taken literally or not? We have your god advocating genocide and committing the killing of people who didn’t agree with it. That does seem to be the Judeo/Islamo/Christian belief and philosophy. We have this god murdering all non-christians in Revelation, and then working with Satan to corrupt the Christians that are left. The various Christian leaders like the Popes who advocated for the Crusades, etc, are cleaving right to what the bible instructs. Even Jesus Christ says that those who won’t accept him as king should be brought before him and killed. If this god can’t control its leaders in this world, then what use is this god? And if you want to cite free will, can you explain how your god’s interference in this world e.g. “miracles” works with that?

  • I can understand that. Part of me has come to that conclusion as well.

  • Parts of the Bible may be taken literally; others, not a chance. When you see how Yahweh advocated the killing of his enemies just like the other deities of the Ancient Near East, you start to wonder if it’s really God giving the orders.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    and the other parts?

  • Jane Ravenswood

    Exactly. Each Christian has their magic decoder ring that they claim tells them what part is what. So, how is a non-christian supposed to know which of you Christians to believe? I was a Presbyterian, predestination and all of that. My best friend in high school was a Catholic. I’ve debated with Christian Scientists and asked them to heal someone and they ran away from one of the foremost claims of their sect. I’ve debated evangelicals, who cite free will and hate anyone different than them and are sure that their god loves them for their bigotry.

    So, is it really your god giving the orders? Jesus is written to have claimed so.

  • fractal

    Perhaps “faith” isn’t what is needed now.
    Perhaps people are looking for the experience of the Sacred.
    One experience is worth a thousand dogmas.

  • Depends on the day and the part. 🙂

  • Jane Ravenswood

    so when are you going to tell your church to merge with others so you all have enough money? And if you are not going to recommend such a thing, why?

  • I’d be down for it, but ultimately it’s up to the church council. They attempted a merger in the past, but it did not work out. If they run out of options, I’ll certainly suggest it. I favor the one city, one church model myself.

  • swbarnes2

    Well, this is what megachurches essentially are. Leveraging economy of scale. One good preacher serves thousands. You don’t have to pay 20 pianists and 20 Sunday school teachers in 20 small churches. Small bible study groups so people have a mini community of people they really know well.

    The major downside is there is cutthroat competition to be the authoritarian in charge when there are fewer power broker to go around. 10 guys who are happy to boss people around in their little church won’t all be able to boss people around in the megachurch.

  • davidt

    Mass shootings are on the increase as well and I guess global warming is as well.

  • Bravo Sierra

    Many of the megachurches around the country have had abuse scandals that are as big in scale as the churches themselves. Who wants to take their kids to a place like that?

  • Bravo Sierra

    Re: “Parts of the Bible may be taken literally; others, not a chance. When you see how Yahweh advocated the killing of his enemies just like the other deities of the Ancient Near East, you start to wonder if it’s really God giving the orders.”
    Cherry picking. But I kind of agree: No Gods were giving the orders because Gods are imagined, not literal.

  • rationalobservations?

    The global climate continues to change just as it has for 4.5 billion years during 5 Ice ages and several mass extinction events.

    Mass shootings have become nonexistent in nations with the strictest gun control and the best trained and disciplined cops.

    Your “guess” work is worthless.

  • Jane Ravenswood


  • Jane Ravenswood

    The problem comes in when every Christian has a different opinion on what the “truth” is. Despite the claims of many Christians that their differences aren’t “important”, they are.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    the climate has changed thanks to the human release of carbon that took millions of year to sequester naturally.

  • Mr. James Parson

    What is “the Sacred” ?

  • rationalobservations?

    There was is little doubt that human activity from the mid 19th century was instrumental in curtailing the “Little ice age” that put much of the northern hemisphere into the freezer each winter, caused crop failure and famine.

    The question of if we have recovered from the little ice age and are back to the wonderful weather that produced huge crops and allowed for many vineyards across England is still unanswered.

    We are overdue for another full on Ice Age and yet another mass extinction event so human activity may have saved our recently evolved species of ape from extinction. How far the temperature rises is another question and when the next inevitable Ice Age returns is unanswered yet.

  • rationalobservations?

    This “experience” will by unique and unprecedented as no-one has ever left or presented evidence of such a thing outside of fiction legend and lies.

  • fractal

    If you haven’t experienced it, you would have no real reason to “believe” in it, and I wouldn’t expect you to.
    However, it is not a unique experience; many have had it during their early childhood, and just dismissed and forgot about it, because it didn’t gel with ordinary reality. People all around the world, for thousands of years have reported experiencing these higher states of consciousness.

    I too hydroplaned on the superficial, intellectual/verbal notions of science-ism for many years—it makes “sense”, and I totally respect that.
    But the fact is, there are other ways of “knowing” than deductive reasoning, and not everything can be measured in a double-blind study.

    Our minds have more than one kind of intelligence.
    Western thought simply refuses to acknowledge that.
    Perhaps one day you will develop the curiosity necessary to delve into this other intelligence; but to do so, you must learn to respect your unconscious mind, which is the doorway to other worlds.

    Look at it this way—
    We spend absurd amounts of money trying to investigate “outer space”, though our bodies can probably never handle the environmental/time factors needed to really go very far.
    What if we didn’t need to take our bodies?
    What if we are already equipped to explore “inner space” with parts of ourselves normally suppressed because we are too busy slicing and dicing reality—when what is required is a different kind of thought?

    And what if some other cultural traditions already knew about this, but we Westerners were too busy conquering and pillaging and playing missionary—and we disregarded their knowledge because it didn’t jive with our own “superior” western way of looking at reality?

    And what if it was actually necessary to repress this other way of knowing, because it challenged the Abrahamic Triad and the power structures of Western cultures?

  • fractal

    Divinity, Goddess, higher states of consciousness, Sat-Chit-Ananda, The One Being—the ultimate experience of Unity and connectivity.
    Every religious tradition has its mystics, and Fundys/Evangelicals historically have killed, expelled, suppressed and sneered at them.
    Funny thing is, mystics from all traditions get along GREAT, and have no issue with each other, as they all have experiences which are in essence, the same (while at the same time, radically personal and individualistic!).

    See, you have this “BELIEF” that your way is the only way.
    But when one actually has a mystical experience, the experience itself stands alone, without the need for pillars of dogma; it is an essentially non-verbal communication and communion.

    Only when one backs away from the experience, does one begin to try and explain it in cultural terms familiar and reassuring.

    If you do that, you will be patting yourself on the back, congratulating yourself on reinforcing your “faith”—but you will be throwing away the deeper meaning of the experience itself.

  • rationalobservations?

    Your very long and quite accurate description of the condition of delusional self deception is superfluous as the condition is well recognised and understood by medical science.

    The key word is always “evidence” but you offer none.

  • rationalobservations?

    Your claims are countered by the data published by the American Church Leaders organisation who reveal that fewer than 18% of Americans will attend a religious indoctrination centre (“church”) in any given week while empty redundant churches are up for sale and whole minor Christian cults have already become bankrupt.

    Still a way to go to become as well educated and godless as much of Europe but rapidly moving in the right direction toward a better educated and more peaceful less superstitious future.

  • fractal

    Technology doesn’t have the tools to measure what I am talking about.
    Doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist; scientists in earlier days would have thought you were crazy if you had begun explaining quarks and viruses.

    It’s OK.
    I used to be a materialist also; I was quite stubborn about it; but one peak spiritual experience is worth a thousand theories.
    Keep an open mind—that is what scientific inquiry is all about—otherwise you are simply a technician.

    Perhaps there is a psychological pathology behind your assertion that the only things existing are those that can be measured by science—have you let your examination into materialism become a dogma?

    Are you afraid of what it might mean if there is more to the universe than you can currently measure and compartmentalize?

  • fractal

    The secret that mystics know which keeps them from being “used by all kinds of dubious belief systems”, is to not have a “belief system” at all!

    Rather than “belief”, mystics tend to trust that the universe is ultimately a very safe place, and regard their spiritual growth as individualistic and tailor-made for them.
    They don’t think there is one true path—there are many.
    And they understand there is a point in which you must go off the path, and into the wilderness of your soul to find the creative impulse which sparks more experiences of mysticism.

    A mystical experience by its nature is non-verbal and encompasses your entire being—it isn’t a “head thing” or an intellectual exercise—though valuable insights may be had from it.

    Using a mystical experience to “prove” any kind of dogma is simply a mistake and a sign of an amateur. Mystical experiences are really meant for the individual that has them, and not for others, and any “revelations” could be supplanted by a future, deeper revelation.

  • rationalobservations?

    Meanwhile back in reality your fantasies remain, well, simply delusional fantasies.

    Imagination and fantasy is ok for entertainment but when and if you actually believe the ridiculous nonsense you recycle it’s not adult or rational and may require psychological analysis and treatment.

    Seek advice and accept treatment if advised to.

    Seriously and with your best interest at heart. Please seek help.

  • fractal

    Do you seriously believe that science has the answer to all questions right now?
    Do you think the existence of something depends on our current ability to define and measure it?
    Is it beyond the realm of possibility, that there are other dimensions which do not operate within the present scientific field of inquiry?

    Why are you so insulting and close-minded about the possibility of things beyond your ken?
    Seems to me that you are the one who is being dogmatic.
    In fact, you argue much like a fundamentalist argues about the bible.

  • fractal

    Perhaps Goddesses don’t abide in churches.
    I suggest you look to nature for communion with Divinity.

  • swbarnes2

    many have had it during their early childhood, and just dismissed and forgot about it, because it didn’t gel with ordinary reality.

    If something doesn’t gel with reality, it’s likely not real.

    Bu of course, you can disprove this by bringing back something real from one of these experiences. The chemical formula for the next blockbuster anti-malarial drug, for instance.

  • swbarnes2

    Small churches have abuse scandals too, they are less likely to make the news. I don’t think the odds are worse at a mega church. At a mega church, if someone thinks they have a civil case, it’s worth pursuing, because the money is there to make it worthwhile. Not so at a small church. A mega church can pay for proper background checks, for what that’s worth, while a small church won’t.

  • swbarnes2

    Parts of the Bible may be taken literally; others, not a chance.

    So the parts about walking on water, and people being brought back from the dead, those are in the “not a chance” pile” right?

  • Bravo Sierra

    But why go to a place where you’re likely to get abused?

  • Jane Ravenswood

    It seems that you want to accept data that agrees with your beliefs and ignore it when it doesn’t.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    to try to claim that experiences are the same and then try to claim that they are individualistic is common woospeak to try to have your cake and eat it too. AS for mystics all getting along, that depends on a no true scotsman fallacy.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    “Technology doesn’t have the tools to measure what I am talking about.” so says every theist when they claim that only their nonsense is the true one. You also use the same excuse that theists you disagree with use, that the nonbeliever has to have been “hurt” at some point, so you can ignore their points.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    “Mystical experiences are really meant for the individual that has them, and not for others, and any “revelations” could be supplanted by a future, deeper revelation.” which argues for the “mystic” just making nonsense up, and having no actual truth.

  • fractal

    Are all ice creams not ice cream?
    And doesn’t ice cream come in many different flavors?

    All sunsets are both alike, and individualistic.
    The same is true of mystical experiences; the commonalities are apparent; the individual flavors, a fun surprise. No two mystical experiences are alike.

    Concerning mystics getting along—I guess you would have to party with them…
    It is a very big tent.

    See, I don’t think most atheists want to understand anything about mysticism; I think they just want to argue, because that is how they interact with the world.
    You have a LOT invested in your very rigid view of reality, just like fundamentalists do.

    Mysticism doesn’t obey your rules of deductive reasoning.
    Neither does love, as I recall…

  • fractal

    You could argue that, I suppose.
    But your stance simply shows your ignorance of the subject.

    “Truth” is not the same as “facts”.
    And all learning is incremental, surrendering one incomplete understanding, for a more insightful paradigm as one sees a bigger picture.

    Why are you so invested in discrediting anything that doesn’t fit into your picture of reality?
    No mystic is trying to convert you; it doesn’t work that way.
    No mystic will ever try to force you to believe anything, or ask you to change your POV.
    They won’t make laws against atheism, or refuse to hire them for a job.

    You probably know several mystics, and have no idea they are such.

  • fractal


    But you keep missing the point.
    I suggest you drop your Belief in the Divinity of Science and deductive reasoning, and simply consider them a tool.
    Because you sound like science has become your fetish.

    Mystics have no problem with science, or anything science has discovered.
    In fact, many scientists have also been mystics; it is their penchant toward open-mindedness which allowed them to challenge religious and cultural isms.

    Mystics simply say there are parallel avenues of knowing, which don’t utilize deductive reasoning.

    I get that flips you out.
    I don’t care; I don’t expect you to get it, if you haven’t experienced it.

    But don’t keep insulting me and my experiences, and then whine when I suggest you may have a personality problem which makes you so mentally rigid and controlling.

  • rationalobservations?

    No one alive can possibly learn the vast and rapidly growing sum total of all human knowledge so no one can know if it includes all possible knowledge and all possible answers to all possible questions.
    I suspect that it cannot as I cannot keep up with all the advances in science and technology and even being insatiably curious, my knowledge gained after many decades covers many fields and disciplines but not the detail of those who have exclusively specialised in the in-depth knowledge and cutting edge advance of only one discipline while they remain profoundly ignorant outside of their field.

    Science has answered questions the you cannot imagine even exist in disciplines you may never have heard of.

    The thing that is outstanding is that in all of the countless hours of patient research with ever more fabulously accurate and sensitive technology, none of the millions of exclusively fictional gods goddesses and god-men have ever been detected and no evidence of any of these has ever been offered by the declining cohort of religionists.

    You claim to believe in one/some/all the millions of undetected and undetectable gods goddesses and god-men but offer no credible reason or evidence upon which a rational non believer can find credible.

    You believe in one specific fictional god. I simply don’t believe in it and add NONbelief in your imaginary deity to our mutual non belief in millions of other gods, goddesses and god-men that appear in fiction but never in reality.

  • rationalobservations?

    I accept all evidence supported valid data.

  • fractal

    How many times do I have to say it—I do not BELIEVE anything.

    So why do you keep insisting that I do?
    I think you are mindlessly railing against the Abrahamic Triad, and you really cannot even imagine any other way to think about spirituality—so you just continue to shove your disbelief down my throat.

    I don’t CARE if there is a god-head or not.

    I don’t CARE if there is any “thing” science can detect, or not.
    I offer no evidence of any such personage, and am trying to convert no one.

    I work with states of consciousness.
    I describe what they feel like, and how they change my POV.
    While I am happy to commiserate or to answer sincere questions, the very most I ask from you while conversing with me, is an open mind—if you don’t have it in you—fine.

    You however, sure get worked up over all of this—gosh, you act like a fundamentalist with a soul to save, the way you keep trying to convince me that YOUR WAY IS THE ONLY WAY to apprehend reality.

    You could just roll your eyes and read something that makes more sense to you.
    But instead you keep trying to club to death YOUR imaginary gods, by sneering at me.

    Methinks thou dost protest too much.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    Yep, there is the weasel word: valid.

  • rationalobservations?

    You claim to have no “belief” in the woo you spam and appear quite historical when someone questions your woo and childish superstition in general.

    For someone who doesn’t care you appear very furious at being questioned and having your bunkum debunked.

    You have my sympathy but your nonsense fails.

  • rationalobservations?

    You entries appear predominantly balanced and informed.

    Why do you discredit “valid” data and therefore appear to preference non valid data?

  • Jane Ravenswood

    I don’t
    Nice try.

  • davidt

    A secular southern Baptist? Brilliant.

  • rationalobservations?

    I am not sure why you are flying off topic like this – but there are many ex religionist atheists in the southern states.

    One of them has a regular blog in this forum.

  • davidt

    I”religion poisons everything, education and free secular democracy has already proved to be the antidote to that poison and the rapidly growing number of rotting empty redundant churches that litter the villages towns and cities of the developed western world are evidence that the cure.”

    100 Million dead last century due to secular wars. Nice cure. I am not even religious and I find your statement about as bright as 6 day creationism. Not very rational or even reasoned but it loves itself for sure. Yes more me me me…. That’s what the world needs today rational many me’s.

  • rationalobservations?

    You rant against totalitarianism. The population of the educated free secular democracies that have evolved to shrug off the totalitarianism of religion also hate and reject the totalitarianism of communism.

    It is worth noting that a significant number of the millions exterminated by tyrants were massacred during the christian crusade of the 3rd Reich.

    Your propaganda that the extreme persecution and mass murder by communist regimes is as bad as the 1600 years of extreme persecution and genocide by christian regimes appears to be self defeating?

    The peaceful egalitarian population of 21st century secular humanists AGREE with you about all forms of brutal totalitarianism.

  • rationalobservations?

    You offer no evidence that supports your fantasies and your pathetic ad hominem fails.

  • rationalobservations?

    Delusion and self deception has many forms yet it is all delusion and self deception.
    Ice cream is ice cream regardless of the flavour…

  • Jane Ravenswood

    wow, more woo word salad. Mystics are just like every other believer in the supernatural, making up nonsense to suit themselves.

    You of course retreat behind the usual theist claim of “atheist don’t want to…” when your baseless claims are questioned. You aren’t anything special, frac. You are just like the fundamentalist believers in the supernatural, when you want to pretend that you know something extra special about the universe.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    Truth is the same as facts, and trying to claim otherwise is just one more believer in the supernatural trying to make believe that he knows something extra special, like any mystery religion believer. You want to claim you have some “truth” just like any Christian, and you have just as much evidence for your nonsense as they do: none. I’ve known plenty of pepole who claim that they are “mystics”, and they spew the same nonsense as you, so needy for someone to believe them so they can feel special.

  • fractal

    Do you not recognize the difference between an experience and a belief?

  • fractal

    Ice cream is ice cream.
    And each flavor is different and unique.

    Just like each mystical experience is both familiar and individualistic.

    Why such hostility?

  • fractal

    “Truth is the same as facts”.

    Not so.
    And most everyone here knows that.
    Why don’t you?

    All I am doing is describing my experiences.
    Not asking anyone to “believe” or “follow” or “agree”.

    Attacking someone for simply describing what their personal experience has been, is pretty tacky.
    It’s like you are afraid of what they are saying, and feel a need to shame them into silence.

    Perhaps you are the one feeling the need to convert others?

  • Jane Ravenswood

    So, frac, tell me a truth that isn’t a fact, and tell me how you know something is true.

  • rationalobservations?
  • fractal

    A fact is a discrete piece of reality.
    The Truth is holistic.

    A person can give one a series of facts—all meant to mislead, dodge, distract etc…
    Truth happens when the person asserting is attempting honesty and openness, and not holding anything back, especially intentionally.

    A person who is truthful is displaying integrity;
    What they think, feel, say and do are all in alignment and conveyed honestly.

  • fractal

    Do you think a big sign will make your statement stronger?
    Where is all this anger coming from?
    No one is trying to convert you or force you to believe anything you don’t wish to…

    Why do you ignore the flavors of ice-cream and act like they are irrelevant to the experience?

    I don’t expect science to deal relevantly with mystical experiences; they don’t have the tools, and it is out of their scope of study for now.
    That doesn’t bother me; I still embrace science for the study of materialism.

  • rationalobservations?

    Doyou think obfuscation makes your inability to contradict that which self evidently confounds and confuses you?
    Do you think the misplaced accusation of “anger” onto those who are actually entertained by and sympathetic to your sad plight and furious impotence convinces anyone of anything other than your pathetic condition of denial and gullibility?

    Why do you imagine that your pathetic childish delusions and ridiculous superstitions are even as real as “ice cream”?

    You bunkum remains debunked and your delusional dishonesty revealed.

  • rationalobservations?

    Repeating verbose nonsensical garbage fails to validate or justify that garbage.

  • rationalobservations?

    Facts and based upon evidence and evidence contributes to truth.
    Your myths, legends and lies are supported by nothing but empty claims and unsupported bunkum.

    I have no need to convert any of the third largest and fastest growing godless and nonreligious demographic of humanity.
    I have no need to convert the children of the declining cohort of delusional religionists.

    Religion is dying out on its own and in response to education and free, secular democracy.

  • rationalobservations?

    An experience is an entirely subjective thing that can be a tangible and verifiable thing when observed to occur and repeatable on request.
    A belief is an unsupported “faith” response to something that has no supporting evidence.

    Atheism, belief in magic and faith in the supernatural would be rendered immediately redundant upon the discovery of evidence of any of the gods and scientific observation of magic in action. That has never happened in the whole history of our recently evolved species of ape.


  • fractal


  • fractal

    I agree that mystical experiences are subjective by nature.
    Not all experiences are “repeatable upon request”.
    Neither do they lend themselves to investigation by science, anymore than the experience of “fatherly love” does.
    It is a different realm of inquiry.

    Who said anything about gods and magic and faith?
    I didn’t.

    A belief is a cherished opinion.
    An experience is not the same thing as a belief.
    I am not looking for “evidence of God”.
    I am experiencing exceptional states of consciousness.

    You seem to be the one all hung up on this “EVIDENCE OF GOD” thingy.

  • fractal

    Not “furious” at all—having fun!
    Projection perhaps?

    And you are correct; I have no “belief” concerning my experiences.
    Who needs beliefs when your heart is in bloom and your mind is expanding faster in one minute, than it has its whole lifetime?

    I’m not sure what being “historical” is about; it seems irrelevant.

  • fractal

    Irrelevant to the comment to which you are responding.

    Why are you looking for a fight when there is none to be had?
    Too much caffeine?

  • fractal

    Not trying to prove anything.
    Therefore, no “evidence” is needed.

  • fractal

    Perhaps this is your left-over anger at the Abrahamic Triad that you are consumed with battling?
    Because you aren’t really addressing anything I say at all; you lob cookie cutter arguments my way, that are not germane to my comments.

    Neither facts nor evidence are the same as Truth.
    If you don’t understand this, I suggest you watch season one of “LIE TO ME”, where this Truth is articulated anecdotally and more clearly.
    Or just google the question of difference, and get it over with.

    I for one am getting bored with your semantic arguments.

    You started and continue this conversation with me, whereby you keep trying to convert me to atheism—been there, done that—your efforts are unnecessary.
    I never talked about myths and legends, yet you are heaving these words like you are stoning me with them.

    If what I say is outside of your realm of experience—so what?
    Why are you foaming at the mouth about this, and who are you really trying to convince?
    I am not trying to convince you of anything; simply reporting what I apprehended.

  • rationalobservations?

    Hahaha your brevity is appreciated but why do you keep throwing tantrums and flagging it one way or another?

  • rationalobservations?

    You confess that there is no reason to believe in imaginary undetected and undetectable delusional “experiences”.

    Yes it’s all in your imagination.

    Failed ad hominem does not obscure that fact.

    Your potential psychosis may be treatable.

  • fractal

    There is no reason for you to “believe in” my experiences.
    I have already said that; I am not trying to convince you.

    So why are you following me around the thread, insulting me and arguing with me?
    Seems like you are anger looking for a place to land.
    Go to the Evangelical page; I am sure there are people there who want to fight about it.
    They seem more your type; convinced they know it all.

  • fractal

    Why is it so important to you to have the last word—even if it is trite and meaningless?

  • Jane Ravenswood

    like Christians and other theists, you claim a “Truth” without evidence. You certainly are paranoid about facts, Frac, and I can understand that since facts show that your claims aren’t to be believed.

    Every believer in the supernatural wants to claim that they are honest and open and get very upset if someone doubts them, daring to ask questions. There is nothing truthful about trying to make baseless claims. A believer in all sorts of things can claim that they are consistent and conveying their beliefs honestly, from you to someone who believes that Nazism is the one true way.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    you have yet to explain how you know something is true if it isn’t a fact.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    I don’t see anyone agreeing with you, frac. You are making claims, so you get questioned about them. Asking someone about their claims isn’t “attacking” them and it isn’t tacky to question the nonsense you try to spread.

    If you have evidence for your claims then present it. If you don’t, the silence is all yours.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    I know what the difference is. Do you?

  • fractal

    I think y’all just wanna shut me up.
    Stupid semantics arguments aren’t going to do it.

    These experiences are mine, and I describe them as best I can.
    If you want to call that “truth”, fine.
    If you don’t—fine.
    I don’t care.
    I will continue to describe what I experience, and a few will recognize it.
    A few more will be curious.
    Most will ignore it.

    And a few combative people will try to stomp out my words because they are threatening to their “reality”.
    Go for it.
    People can decide for themselves as they read.

    But seriously y’all—you are as dogmatic and authoritarian as any Fundamentalist.
    Deductive reasoning is a good servant, but a terrible master.

  • rationalobservations?

    Thank you for once again confirming that your delusions are not narrowly based.
    Your cop out is transparent and if being confronted with the nature of your delusions unsettles you this much, why reveal them in an open forum and expose yourself to ridicule?

    If you make ridiculous claims you must expect to be ridiculed.

    As for “anger”? That is clearly all on your frustrated and humiliated side of any online examination of your nonsense.

    You have my sincere sympathy but attract little respect for your nonsense and your whining.

  • rationalobservations?

    This is a question you must ask yourself..

    If you can’t stand the humiliation, stay out of the forum.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    No, I want you to support your claims. As much as you want to claim you can have your own reality, you have yet to show this is true. And you have yet to show how you know this “truth” you claim to have.

  • fractal

    Who says I am unsettled?
    Or angry?
    I’m not, sugar.
    This exchange has been fun, but it is getting boring; you are just repeating insults now.

    Your words mean nothing to me, in comparison with what I have experienced—spitting in the wind…

    I commented because I have something to say.
    Is that a problem for you?
    Wanna shut me up?

  • fractal

    What humiliation?
    Haven’t found any to stand on…

  • fractal

    I don’t think you do.

  • rationalobservations?

    Your inability to justify your claims must be humiliating or your gullibility and cognitive dissonance is all that prevents you from accepting the facts.

  • rationalobservations?

    I don’t wish to shut you up but am trying to extract some evidence supported sense from you.
    You confirm you are incapable of that.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    What is the difference then?

  • fractal

    Must be?
    Can you prove that?

  • rationalobservations?

    You prove it continually, f all.
    Can you prove the existence of any supernatural event or paranormal being?

  • rationalobservations?

    Truth is reliant upon supporting facts and evidence, son. Whatever made you imagine otherwise?

    Fiction is fiction without evidence supported facts to back it up.
    You don’t have anything but bull$#|T and evidence devoid opinion.

    Your obfuscation and failed analysis of all that confounds you is transparent avoidance and projection.

    Your straw man non-arguments will always burn.

    I was long ago bored by the sort of nonsense you recycle but cannot excuse. I am however; very happy to debunk this sort of bunkum anytime anyplace it crops up.

    Try again – but this time with less bull$#|T and some attempt at validation through evidence.

  • rationalobservations?

    You concede that no evidence exists or it would have been presented and validated long ago.

  • rationalobservations?

    Obfuscation and avoidance is further evidence of your capitulation.
    If you ever have anything interesting and evidence supported – please feel free to get back to me. Take all the time you need, son.

  • rationalobservations?

    “Not “furious” at all—having fun…”?
    Sure you are! Hahahahahahahaha.
    You have very extensively demonstrated Your delusional, ridiculous, infantile, dishonest and egotistical condition. These further confirmations appear superfluous.

  • fractal

    Who ever said anything about “supernatural”?
    Or “paranormal being” for that matter?

    There is nothing that I do, or which happens to me, that couldn’t happen to anyone.
    Nothing super or para about it.

    See, this is all about your preconceived notions, based on your religious PTSD—I had it too!
    If you would open up your mind, you wouldn’t be making these faux pas.

  • fractal

    Is this what comment boards are to you?
    A measure of how popular your belief system is?

    I have no “evidence”.
    I am not trying to prove anything, or asking anyone to believe anything.
    You must have me confused with some Christian Evangelical.

  • fractal

    Keep throwing insults against the wall, and see what sticks…

    PS—adjectives are slippery and can tend to boomerang on those projecting them…

  • fractal

    There is no evidence that can be measured by our technology today.
    It isn’t a subject that lends itself to “evidence”, as it is an internal, subjective experience.

    Why does this make you so emotional?

  • fractal

    Not trying to back anything up.
    Not trying to prove anything.
    How many times do I have to say it?

    You are trying to use a can-opener to fold a pillow case.
    Wrong tool for the job.

    And your phrase:
    “fiction is fiction without evidence supported facts to back it up”

    is just wrong—most everyone knows that.
    Does fiction become “fact” simply because a human brain decides that its existence is supported by evidence?

    Were quarks non-existent until we proved them?

    Logical fallacy.

  • rationalobservations?

    Thank for confirming the nonexistence of the paranormal and supernatural.
    You acceptance that subjective imaginary experiences are delusions but that has been obvious to many of us so your confirmation is superfluous.

    Well done and I hope you continue to a full recovery.

  • rationalobservations?

    Keep up the hilarious denial but get back to me if you ever have any questions or anything interesting and evidence supported to offer.

  • rationalobservations?

    You said it all in your first 4 words:
    “There is no evidence…”

    Why does this make you do hysterical?

  • rationalobservations?

    Your capitulation was summed up in another of your recent entries.
    “There is no evidence..”

  • fractal

    Why don’t you address the comment you are answering, instead of just tossing out insults?

  • fractal

    Consider that religious zealots probably would have killed a lot more “heretics” if they could have…
    A lot harder to kill several millions before guns, the understanding of infectious disease etc…

    And I would propose that the annihilation of our Native population was justified and to a certain extent driven by religion—as was the conquest and colonization of India, Africa etc…

    Really, organized religion is just the highest level of politics.
    Who is going to disagree with a Godhead or the representative of such?

  • Jane Ravenswood

    This from the person who insisted that “everyone here” agrees with them that truth isn’t the same as facts.

  • fractal

    Excuse me.
    I meant every educated person.


    Words have meanings.
    If the two words meant exactly the same thing, we wouldn’t need both words.

    This understanding is the gift of a liberal arts education; I suggest it for you.


  • rationalobservations?

    Why don’t you explain what you believe and present the evidence upon which your beliefs are based?

    Fiction never becomes fact.
    Claims remain empty claims until and unless EVIDENCE confirming the claims is validated.

    Belief is not evidence.
    Delusions are not evidence.
    Faith has no relevance to reality.

  • fractal

    I believe the universe is ultimately a very safe place.
    Based on my experiences only.
    No concrete evidence; no expectations for anyone else to care or believe.

    That’s about it.
    As I keep telling you, I don’t really have any religious “beliefs”.
    I make no claims, except to report what I experience as honestly as I can.

    Why is that so hard for you to accept?

  • Jane Ravenswood

    Whee, more baseless opinions. And nice to see you now have to try to move the goalposts since your initial claim wasn’t true.

  • fractal

    What claims?

  • fractal

    You are boring.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    Poor frac, a failure to the end.

  • Jane Ravenswood

    Oh my,as my friend George says. Poor frac wants to pretend he hasn’t made claims about him knowing the “Truth”. What a failure.

  • davidt

    Sorry I am mocking religious delusions dressed in secular drag. You can call yourself anything you want total Free will to redress fantasy into new clothing but it’s the same nonsense regardless.

  • rationalobservations?

    Your nonsense, your problem…

  • rationalobservations?

    I just stumbled upon this little diatribe of denial, but it still makes no sense.

  • davidt

    Atheism….is even more mental than belief in god..both are incredibly stupid with atheism even dumber than belief. What you believe or don’t believe are irrelevant.

  • rationalobservations?

    Yet another logic and evidence devoid little rant, Dave?
    Why do you waste your time like this?

  • davidt

    Oh please what atheism doesn’t believe or religion believes is infantile nonsense. Evolve already atheism is so modern Christian I can barely tolerate it’s stupidity.

  • rationalobservations?

    You still make no sense.