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Subject: An atheist's first and only experience with prayer

Hi Bob,

I have long been a fan of the site, and I am puzzled as to why I haven't recalled earlier the story that I'm about to share. As you already know from the title, it's the story of my first and only experience with prayer. I'm also surprised that I didn't continue praying thereafter, considering how incredibly well it turned out. It'll make for an awfully long post, but it's worth it, I swear. Anyway, here it is.

I was 14-15 years old (I'm twice as old now), and I was in the delicate position of being the "new kid at school." I was also introduced as being recently arrived from Africa, where I had lived for 3 years, so I was quite the object of curiosity. I guess it helped me to make friends rather quickly, despite my overall geekiness. (I had attended French school in Senegal, which was much harder, and back in Canada everything seemed such a piece of cake, I had almost perfect grades in every class.) And thanks to my cousin for my then recent initiation to heavy metal, I also managed to make friends with the local bums (whose grades were generally and unsurprisingly rather low), so in a word everything was going well.

Where did it start going wrong? Well, it just happened that I was also getting good grades in a class unanimously hated with a passion, namely: religious education. Now my grand-parents are somewhat religious, so I was baptized, and even confirmed a few years before, but apart from those two events, religion was a complete mystery to me, it was never talked about around me, I had never even for a second considered the possibility of a supreme being (I mean, even at the time of being confirmed, if you can believe that, I went through all this like a complete zombie). So religious education to me was basically only a matter of retaining names and events, which I could do without even trying. The problem is that the class was taught by this huge, hideous and overly surly nun, who took special pleasure in reading everyone's "disastrous" grades while handling copies, complete with personalized degrading comments - and I mean everyone?s disastrous grades - even the otherwise geeky students except, of course, for yours truly. My copy was a special moment for her: she was so pleased to have such a good student, who seemed to really enjoy her teachings, so willing to put the necessary efforts to blahblahblahblah... all of this aloud to the rest of the class of course. I have never since felt such shame. I felt like throwing up all over the place each time.

One day I just had enough of her belittling my friends by using me as an example and making me look like such an angel (read : a pussy), but what could I do? Failing on purpose was out of the question. Then I thought of this guy supposedly up there, who'd listen to anyone and could grant wishes, so I gave it a try. My prayer was complete gibberish: "Can you make her stop, tell her to stop, could she simply not be present, just for one class, can you move her to another school, just make her go away, make it stop one way or another, amen." Something like that.

The very next class I gasped in awe as I learned that the Most Holy Creator of the universe had heard my prayer and worked His miracle: His faithful (if bad-tempered) servant had been in an accident, her leg and some other bones broken so badly that she had to miss the remaining of the semester. But don't you go thinking that God's power stops there. This is only the beginning. The stand-in teacher He had chosen in His infinite wisdom to replace the manly-nun was this unbelievably hot chick, still in her twenties, I mean, the contrast, it was just too much: it was orgasmic. The proverbial sexiness incarnate. Now I don't remember her in explicit details, sadly, but just think Jessica Alba and we're getting pretty close. So Jessica, after introducing herself, starts the class by telling us that she simply cannot teach the Bible, that she doesn?t
believe in this book at all, makes some joke about Adam and Eve?s sons having incestuous relations between them, or with their mother (both I think), in brief: SHE WAS AN ATHEIST! So we'd have to spend the remaining of the semester talking about philosophy, ethics and human relations (and thinking... err... nothing!). No more religion! Each and every guy in the class was being suffocated by an excess of ecstasy, and I was thinking Wow. There's something there that I don't quite understand. Indeed, I really didn't expect such a wondrous result. Prayer, religion, God, all this evaporated... it's just that, well, atheism had so much more appeal!

I'll acknowledge one thing though: it?s true that God works in mysterious ways. And it fails, too! Or maybe I simply dialled the wrong number and ended up in Hell, who knows. And who cares: that prayer, meh, it was just the icing on the cake!

Dominic

“of course its hard to believe and doesn't make very much sense. but science never "proved" anything.”

you can continue whatever you want and say what you want.. i'm not really trying to stop you.

but honestly, why can't God be real?
of course its hard to believe and doesn't make very much sense.
but science never "proved" anything about how we were created.
its told us a lot about what "could have" happened, but never proved anything.
you really can't prove God to be fake. He could be real. u'd have to admit, even though u don't believe it, and you most likely won't admit it, he could be. There is no reason he can't.

Just like there is no reason we couldn't have evolved from monkeys. I don't believe that. I don't know if you do. But whether there is or isn't a God is all belief. I choose to believe that there is a God and there is a Jesus that was the son of God. You choose to believe that there is no God. i don't see why you have to make this huge deal about it.

Myspace Brian
myspace.com/nevergiveup033

Brian, I've been trying to think of an easy way to explain this to you that you'll both understand, and appreciate.

First of all let's all keep in mind that you're 17 years old. 17 is an age where you barely know what's going on in the world and hardly know how to think outside the box you're in wherever you are, presumably middle-class, middle-American suburbia (ie- believers in the Holy Bible in every direction you're facing).

One of the things you learn when you're an adult is that much of what people typically believe is solely based on what the people around them believe. If you were raised in India you'd probably believe in Hindu gods like Ganesha & Buddha. If you were raise in the 9th century as a Viking you'd believe in Thor the Hammer Wielding God of Thunder. If you were raise in the Branch Davidian in the 80s you would've believed David Koresh was the Messiah. And if you were being raised right now in The Lord Our Righteousness Church you'd believe Michael Travesser was the saviour to mankind. We're just really simple like that. We'll believe in any sort of nonsense that our parents teach us early on, and we think we're right and everybody else is wrong and going to hell.

Next, I'm sorry to tell you Brian, but you're wrong about science not proving anything. Science has indeed proven that we've evolved over billions of years, starting at the most basic form of life, slowly building, generation after generation in slow, incremental steps. Most scientists agree, thus it is more than a hypothesis. It is an established fact. That too doesn't bode well for the strange explanations religions have for how we got here. None of these things disprove the existence of some god existing, but it's some strong strikes against them.

Now, I'm not sure if when you're saying "God" could exist if you mean specifically your Christian God, Father to Jesus Christ [1], or if you mean any of the gods we've dreamed up [2], or just any god-like being, perhaps one we haven't even thought of yet [3].
If you're talking about specifically the Bible's Christian God, Father to Christ [1], he has pretty thoroughly been disproved. The facts in the Bible contradict proven facts about history, biology, even mathematical equations, and some of the most basic facts of life. You might say that maybe they're all just supposed to be parables and helpful, neat stories that aren't supposed to be facts, but the belief is rooted in these things being truth.
Now if you're saying any of the gods we've dreamed up [2] could be real, all you need to do is read deeper into the books they're supposed to have written and you'll soon discover they too contradict established facts, and are all as equally improbable as each other. But if you're saying any sort of god could exist [3] then that's no different than saying a pink unicorn, Santa Claus, Superman or winged dragons exist too. Sure they might somewhere other than dreamland, but that'd no reason to think it's at all within any reasonable realm of probability. Especially in a realm of probability you're gonna use to base your life and devotion to.

The reason I'm atheist and believe what I do is because the evidence points towards it being so. A world that made no sense with the idea of God hovering over it made perfect sense without Him. Living life and seeing how things work and the patterns people have, it makes better sense that it's all pretend. And one of the most valuable things a person can hold onto (an this isn't emphasized enough) is one's own sanity. Shelving ones own logic so a belief in the illogical can be maintained plays havoc on sanity. That's what I saw happening to me when I tried to maintain a belief in a god, and it's what I see happening to others who try to do the same. Which leads me to precisely why I make a huge deal of it like I do. It's the same kind of knock-in-the-head that brought me to my senses.

Bob
myspace.com/normalbobsmith

“i find it a little funny how you say u're keeping your sanity being an atheist without a God... yet you're the one dressing up at Satan, acting the way you do.”

i see why u believe what you do, but, i still personally believe in christianity.

could you explain more about how you said the christian God is so disproved? i've never really heard so much of that.

and.. no matter how much you says Gods are fairy-tale like and far-fetched. it makes sense to me. you might say its bcuz i'm 17. but obviously, older people believe the same as me. I think.. if there is no God, that must mean, everything can be explained... with math.. or science.. or in some way. and some things just don't make sense... at least to me. some things could just be coincidences that just couldn't be coincidences.

As much as you say "dude, its just a coincidence, leave it at that." i don't believe that. Science can never explain those kind of coincidences. Maybe you don't really know what i'm talking about. or you act like you know.. but you really don't understand.

also.. don't take any offense to this.. but i find it a little funny how you say u're keeping your sanity being an atheist without a God... yet you're the one dressing up at Satan, acting the way you do.

Myspace Brian
myspace.com/nevergiveup033

Personal belief. This is where we go wrong, thinking there's a "personal belief" as valid as an evidence based belief. A studied, scrutinized belief. A tested true belief, no different than a belief in the proper way to lay bricks with cement, or bake a cake, or grow a tomato plant. People think a personal belief that goes against the evidence, or slaps the face of logic, or could even be pulled out of thin air is somehow an insightful plausible option.

To believe in the Christian god first you have to believe the world was created around 10,000 years ago. This has been proven by science not to be how & when things began. The earth was formed billions of years ago. You can have a personal belief that this isn't so, but it's really just ignorant to believe solely based on what you want to say is true.

To believe in the Christian god you have to believe humans were created as-is shortly after the creation of the world, and we've not evolved from more primitive animals. It has been proven that we have indeed evolved from Cro-Magnons, who've been proven to've evolved from monkey-like ancestors (but not the monkeys we know today, because they too have evolved), who've evolved from lesser mammals and so on and so on back to reptiles, and before that fishes and so forth. These are things which have been proven a thousand different ways around the world with consistent results which confirm and amplify these facts again and again. Any intellectually honest scientist agrees with these findings. It is these facts that also disprove the Christian god and the book claimed to be written by him.

If you accept that to believe in the Christian god you have to believe the bible to be true, then the Christian god has been disproved.

Of course you are completely allowed to junk all of this and believe whatever you want based on nothing more than "personal feelings" but for myself it's clear that isn't how truth is established. Truth is found through testing and scrutiny. Not following the proper steps to truth teaches bad lessons and can send you down the wrong path for other important decisions in life. You can have a personal belief on how a power drill should be operated, but it's far more productive to read the directions which have been written from serious testing so as not to drill a hole through your foot.

It's just so obvious how truth should be determined which is why I make fun of people who don't form their beliefs correctly. I think it's really dumb to form scientific beliefs on what you hope to be true, and personal feelings.

Know what I mean?
Bob
myspace.com/normalbobsmith

“is there any way you could show me more about how you say its "proved" that we were evolved from monkey-like creatures?”

ok. is there any way you could show me more about how you say its "proved" that we were evolved from monkey-like creatures? ur just telling me. and especially you should agree with me, that u telling me something like that is just like someone telling me that pigs can fly. me believing it just bcuz you told me would go against mostly what you stand for.

now... here's another question. lets say all this evolution goes back to a small, microscopic cell, or even an atom or proton or whatever is "proved". How did that get created? No matter how you say evolution happened.. your going to end up having to say that this small cell or atom was created.. by nothing. it just happened. how did it get created? thats when i stop believing what you say it supposedly "proved".

Myspace Brian
myspace.com/nevergiveup033

This is where actual study comes in. One of the reasons I was a believer as a youth was because believing God just made it all that way required very little study. It was just all there in those 3 words. "God did it." And that's all I had to learn!

Now, actual study, examination of the evidence and applying logic to what I read and observed is where my belief in evolution and my overall atheist outlook began. I read books like Richard Dawkin's "Ancestor's Tale," Howard Bloom's "The Lucifer Principle," & Stephen Hawking's "Brief History of Time"

I visited the Museum of Natural History, and watched studies of animal & human behavior like "The Human Animal" or http://koko.org/ to see unquestionably that we are mammals, indeed animals with stunningly similar behaviors that cannot be denied.

I watched lectures and entertaining educational shows available on YouTube like Dawkins at Lynchburg, Evolution of the Eye, Debates with Christopher Hitchens, and there are countless other avenues to begin at that present the evidence and command one to engage logic at every corner.

You can very easily say "God made it all," but if you really look at the arguments and listen to the educated, it becomes obvious quite quickly that wishful thinking does not pave the road to truth. And you're stuck with the exact same paradox of "who made God to begin with" in your beliefs.

I junked religion when I just saw how it didn't make sense. I wanted it to, but in the end it failed the tests. It was bankrupt of evidence or commonsense, and that did not leave me feeling sane. It left me feeling foolish when I spoke of my beliefs.

It takes time and effort. But that's how learning truth should be.

Bob
myspace.com/normalbobsmith

“My question is: How did this atom that started it all get created?”

i'm sorry.. but these youtube videos have honestly proved nothing to me. they could make an atheist more assure in what he or she is believing, but they really prove nothing.

i have one statement that u've chosen to ignore in my last message. Please don't answer this question with more videos explaining how humans are quite similar to apes, but just answer the question. I believe the evolution theory all goes back to a small atom or proton or molecule. This atom slowly over time evolved into an organism as a fish or a monkey and after a while, a human. My question is: ..How did this atom that started it all get created?

Myspace Brian
myspace.com/nevergiveup033

The reason I avoid it is because the question is the same to you. How did it all get started? Where did that first initial atom come from? It is very very difficult to answer that. I mean, how does something come from nothing? Even if it's a simple atom it's almost impossible to comprehend it coming from absolute nothingness. But you however have to first explain how your complicated, atom-making, super-genius, all powerful, living god came from nothing. That's a far more difficult task than explaining how a simple atom might have come to be.

You must explain yours first because yours is FAR more difficult to imagine coming out of nowhere. Evidence has proven that intelligent life forms evolve, and that is the only way intelligence comes about. You're claiming that your mega-intelligent life form came from nothing? If you think the question demands an answer from me, then the same question is a blood-curdling scream at you.

Did he make himself? Did someone make him? How did he evolve? Or did he just pop up out of nowhere as a mega intelligent, loving, super-powerful life form who can summon matter out of the same nothingness he came from? And why the Christian god? What evidence do you have that this pop-up-out-of-nowhere god is the one described in the Bible? You act as if the question doesn't apply to you.

Unfortunately for us now, we have evolved to prefer a junk answer as opposed to no answer at all. We'd rather believe it came about magically than leave the question open and search for the real answer.

All that said, the explanation for where matter began is summed up quite nicely here.

And the best part is, it makes sense. It fits logically.
Bob
myspace.com/normalbobsmith

“Jesus healed the sick. There is no scientific way to heal the sick.”

"when matter and anti-matter traveling close to the speed of light collide, they annihilate each other and create a burst of energy"
that is what that video is basically based on. it sounds like you need matter to create matter? soo hows this original matter created? this, once again, doesn't answer how matter was originally created.

and i guess before i ask that question.. i must ask my own religion how God was created like you said. Well, Bob, you must remember the main thing of why you make fun of christians. I'll quote yourself from a previous message. "One of the reasons I was a believer as a youth was because believing God just made it all that way required very little study. It was just all there in those 3 words. 'God did it.' And that's all I had to learn!" See, christians just have to say "God did it" because there is no way we can explain how, for example, Jesus healed the sick. There is no scientific way to heal the sick. If there is a God that is as almighty and powerful as the christian belief says, we know that we won't be able to understand a lot of stuff about him. God always is and always was. I don't understand how this is. But i don't expect to. I'm not God. I don't understand his plans or how he began. Christians have faith that it's true.

But, you are an atheist and an evolutionist because you don't like how christians can just say "God did it". You believe everything can be explained. I ask you, "How was the first matter created?" because you believe everything can be explained. I expect you to be able to tell me this. You can't say "i don't understand how matter was first created," because then your being a total hypocrite. You base everything you believe off of facts and understanding. Christians believe what they believe off of pure faith. You can make fun of religion all you want, saying how we can't prove any of it. But first Bob, you must prove your point first. Until you can totally prove your "theory", Evolutionism is just as believable as any other religion.

Myspace Brian
myspace.com/nevergiveup033

Yes, but simply saying "God did it" ends the research. It stops the learning process and expects you to simply take it at face value and end questioning. That's where religion lost me. It asked for faith rather than doubt. Science on the other hand is based on doubt. Every single study of science begins with doubting, and proving against the doubt. Prove each answer wrong until you have one that can't be proved wrong.

At present I am left to explain how the shoebox is empty except for the speck of dust inside. You are left to explain how the shoebox is empty except for the 2,000 pound purple hippopotamus with wings and a magic wand inside.

It was when I read Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" I started to actually comprehend how nothing can come from something. How a black hole is absolute nothingness, and in being nothingness implodes like a vacuum, and how the first black hole is probably where everything began. I am resisting the urge to begin an armchair discussion on the scientific explanation of the origin of the universe with you because we don't know. I'd also like to say that the dilemma of "matter from nothing" isn't where my disbelief began. Both sides can't fully explain it, yet.

My disbelief began when I saw each believer's struggle to argue for "the loving god" because it was nicer than not. The "loving god" had too many personal rewards and kindnesses, and truth doesn't come gift wrapped in a pink bow like that. The ache for love and gentle kisses has no place in the search for facts, and if your truth includes love and gentle kisses it should be fact checked with even more scrutiny because of our weakness to want it so.

Bob
myspace.com/normalbobsmith

“My question is: How did this atom that started it all get created?”

Dec 27, 2008 1:33 PM
Bob, i'm not trying to prove to you that my religion is correct. I believe it is, but i can't prove it. I don't care how much u can prove religions wrong. i want you to prove yours correct. i now see there is no way i could change what u think. You are stubborn, just as i am with my own religion. You are simply doing the same as me. I say "God created it. He began from nothing" And your simply saying "This black hole did it. Stephen Hawkins said so. This black hole began from nothing, it is nothing. It started it all" You are basically arguing that you can believe in one fairy tale, but not many.

Myspace Brian
myspace.com/nevergiveup033


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