Saturday, October 25, 2014

Confessions of a Former Atheist – 2

At the end of my previous post, I shared a graphic. Ever since I gave my life over for God to run, I have studied hard. I studied the Bible, I studied others' works and everything I could get my hands on because I still sought the truth. The more I studied, the more I realized that I was alive at a very special time in history – the time of the end of all things as we’ve known them.

You see, I’ve learned that our lives have a beginning and an end. The same goes with all of creation. We’re all on a Space-Time Line that has a fixed beginning and end. The “time” before that was forever past and once the Time Line is finished, it will be forever future when time ceases to exist. The graphic I shared was a tiny part of the very end of the Time Line Continuum.

Now, before we delve into the chart and the subject of creation, I have to share with you in depth that I used to believe in evolution…until my husband wanted to raise show Guppies. Some of you don’t know what those are. Guppies are a type of small fish (about the size of large minnows) and there are some that have specific colors and patterns that are highly prized. I found out almost immediately that they don’t evolve into those colors and patterns; they have to be carefully bred and ruthlessly culled to achieve show status. All my teachers and the talking heads on all the TV shows spouting evolution’s premise that we’re all getting better and more advanced flew in the face of the reality I saw – that if left alone these fish morphed back into their pond minnow state. Then I started looking at our pets – cats and dogs. They, too, had been carefully bred in order to morph into the different breeds and that some of those were so inbred that they had great physical problems. It just didn’t make sense. The more I looked, the more things pointed to an intelligent creator who put things together. A friend of mine asked me once, “The combustion engine for an automobile is much less complex than the human body. If you put all the parts of that engine into a washing machine and ran it for a million years, would all those parts come together to make that engine?” Definitely not!

I have come to believe that everything we see was created. There is an infinitely intelligent Being out there who put it all together and like it or not we are part of that creation for the Being to enjoy. As an artist, I am continually compelled to create a painting, drawing or whatever else visual. It made sense that somewhere beyond the universe there is a creative great being who wanted to put something together for his enjoyment. That Being lives outside the Time/Space Continuum that he put us in, so he can view it start to finish – sort of like those who put together train sets like I remember my father had when I was a child. It had moving roads and sidewalks and several tiers of trains. If we were someone on the sidewalk, we would only see the things moving around us, but as the creator we would see it all at once and would control it all out of sight from those on the sidewalk of that train set.  That is the illustration accompanying today’s post to illustrate how we are like those stuck in the train set/time line.

I have in recent years learned that if you can’t see or believe in something, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist! It was a really hard, painful, expensive and time-consuming lesson. I didn’t know for over a year that I had cancer. I didn’t believe I had cancer, I didn’t see cancer, but yet it was there lurking and growing in my body. Only when it grew large enough to start protruding and becoming painful did I know that something was wrong and that something was there. I know it’s a negative example, but even if we don’t believe in a great intelligent creator or see him, that doesn’t mean he isn’t there. Even if we can’t see electricity or air they’re still there and working behind the scenes like that creator-being.

Way back on the time line, people started calling this great intelligent creator God. Those who believed him were able to communicate with him, and some were given messages for the people around them. Some were even privileged to see his other created beings, the messengers that some call angels. This creator being God stepped into the Time Line on occasion to alter the course of what we call history in different ways. I won’t go into a lot of detail as most of these have been recorded both in the book called the Bible and other historian writings. You can easily check them out for yourself.

The graphic chart that I put together is what I understand will happen at the very end of this Time Line. I know beyond a shadow of doubt that this is going to happen very soon, probably within my lifetime – and remember I am one of the earliest Baby Boomers. Since I have tried to help you understand why I believe as I do, next post I will start sharing this graphic chart’s meaning.

Illustration: The Space-Time Continuum


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Confessions of a Former Atheist

Welcome! If you’re reading this, it means one of two things: I’m still here or I’ve recently disappeared. I’ll clarify in a bit, but I need to give you some background.

I am one of those Baby Boomers. There, I’ve admitted it. I’m old to most of you, but my brain doesn’t think so. It still thinks it’s twenty-something. So while my body is starting to fall apart, my mind is still going strong and I’m able to share decades-worth of information that I’ve gleaned during my lifetime.

I wasn’t born an atheist - I became aware that I existed probably around age 3. My early memories of family life in Pennsylvania are crystal clear, and at this point in life I am the only one in my immediate family who remembers what transpired way back then. I won’t bore you with details, though some are fascinating, horrifying and some humorous, but I’ll just share that I remember 2 different churches that I was dragged to during that time of my life. We didn’t go for very long at either church, and I never saw any change in my parents’ behaviors or attitudes when we did go. I just figured it was a place to go and sing songs, listen to a speaker and then talk to people like a social club. I’m not knocking either of the pastors; I’m just sharing what I remember as a childhood experience.

The closest thing to spirituality I can remember is the time we lived outside of an Amish community. My father had made some friends, and we socialized with them. It was one of the few happy times in our family, and I suppose it’s why artistically I love all things turn-of-the-century farm related. Before we were able to eat dinner, we had to kneel at our respective chairs and pray. I was impressed with the Amish folk as they seemed to live what they believed. That’s the first time I’d ever seen that in my 8 years of life.

When we moved to Florida for my father’s health a year later, my brother and I were sent to church once we were settled. The closest one was a Baptist church, so that’s where we went since we walked everywhere in the town where we lived. I didn’t go all the time and looking back I realize that I’d go for awhile, then quit for awhile before returning. This went on throughout my teen years. By the time I’d graduated high school and had a year of college I had totally quit going. I knew some great folks there, but didn’t see a change in the majority of the people I knew at church. I still thought of it as a social club.

By the time I was through with the 1 1/2 years of college I was able to attend, I didn’t believe there was a God at all. I hadn’t seen much of a difference in the way folks lived who professed to be Christians except for a very few. I was taught evolution and it made perfect sense to me.

I married and had our daughter, and instead of going to church on the weekends several of us got together and headed for the woods or the beach with our kids. All of us believed that life is what it is and after that there’s nothing. This existence is all that there is to life, so we needed to enjoy what we had when we had it. We enjoyed camping, fishing, hunting and the beach. It was a good time for all 3 of our families.

Then one Saturday night at a different friend’s party we were sitting around ,talking, and the subject of eternity came up, and the hereafter. The thing that pierced my heart was a statement made from a friend who said, “What if there really WAS a God? Would you be willing to risk what happened to you after you died in not believing?” In an instant my thought process was changed. What if there really WAS a great intelligent being that created everything? At that moment I went from Atheist to Agnostic and I began searching for answers.

My search lead me to a group of “spiritists” in our area. I never attended a meeting or séance but used my local library to check out books on the occult from as far away as Great Britain. I began to question everything I’d learned in Sunday school about this guy named Jesus who supposedly did miracles so long ago. The things I was learning showed me that this Jesus used teleportation and levitation among other tricks to do the things he was supposed to have done. Even I was able to do some small things using the power of my mind, so what was the big deal all about? The more of these things I practiced, the more power I had and the more things I could do.

About that time I met my husband’s cousin. We sponsored him in a side business we were into, and he came to the house quite frequently. I knew he was different. He spoke this jargon that I’d heard in church earlier in life, but like the Amish, he was one of the few who actually lived what he believed. For some reason that didn’t make me angry like the "churchy" people who came to my door and said I was going to Hell because I wasn’t “saved.” I asked him lots of questions about this Jesus and what type of powers he was using. He didn’t know the specifics but kept referring me to a teacher in his church who was a science teacher and, along with his pastor, probably had the answers I was looking for.

One quick note before I continue. Did I mention that during this time I became allergic to bee and wasp stings? When we’d go out in the woods in open dune buggies, I started getting stung. Hmmm. Looking back on it, I was the only one who was getting repeatedly stung. At first I thought the reaction was all in my head, but one Sunday when we were riding down the road from a friend’s home I saw a wasp and watched it hit my arm. The next thing I remember was waking up in the grass about a half mile down the road and everyone looking down at me worried. That’s when I went to an allergist and that’s when he told me I should be DEAD! He didn’t know why I was still alive. I think that’s why I intensified my search for truth. For the first time in my life I realized I wasn’t invincible.

After talking with Cousin for several months, one Sunday morning – May 21, 1978 to be exact – I woke up with an urgency within me that I couldn’t explain, except that I HAD to go to church that morning. I guess my whole demeanor rattled my family because we found some old “churchy/funeral” clothes and drove to the church that Cousin attended. After being warmly greeted, we went through the routine that I’d remembered as a child with the singing and passing the plate for donations. The preacher gave a sermon on why we were created and about half way through something hit me like a ton of bricks. I physically felt something lift off of me and for the first time in my 31 years of life I could understand the truth. At that instant, in my seat, I told this guy Jesus that I believed all the things I’d heard and read about him and his father, and told him that I was turning my life over to him. I didn’t know what it all meant, but I was sincere. For the first time I could ever remember I felt a peace deep inside my being that I couldn’t explain. But I knew it was true and I knew it was there. 

More next post . . .