From the AWAKE! Magazine: “I WAS RAISED AN ATHEIST.”

Is Atheism On The March?“I WAS RAISED AN ATHEIST” is the last article about atheism in the November issue of the AWAKE! magazine. This one gives us a personal testimonial of an atheist turned believer, named Frantisek Vyskocil.1 That could make this article the most interesting part of the whole AWAKE! for many people. When you consider how predictable the rest of these articles have been (they were almost exactly like the last AWAKE!2 on atheists) I’m really hoping this one will shine. If you’ve been following the rest of this series (which started here) you know that I haven’t been too impressed so far.3 So you’re probably wondering if this article will stand out or just blend into the crowd.

It’s been a few days since my last post (darn my real job!) so now, I’ll go ahead and give you the complete set. Let’s get started.

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  1. The Wikipedia article makes no mention of his conversion. Darn it.
  2. Once I went back to check, it looks like I was actually thinking of an article in the Watchtower magazine. Oops.
  3. I plan to do another article, coming soon, where I look at the formulaic nature of the Watchtower Society’s publications and how they affect their readers. Stay tuned.

From The AWAKE! Magazine: HAS SCIENCE DONE AWAY WITH GOD?

Is Atheism On The March?This is the second article in the November AWAKE! that deals with atheists, following “IS ATHEISM ON THE MARCH?” Current and former Jehovah’s Witnesses may notice that atheism isn’t a topic that the Watchtower Society covers very often. I guess we aren’t their typical bread and butter when it comes to making converts, as most Witnesses are trained to convert believers rather than nonbelievers. So it’s always interesting when the Society breaks out half a magazine that talks about atheists or atheism generally, especially if you’re a Jehovah’s Witnesses turned atheist like I am. Thanks go to P.Z. Myers for jumping on this one, too. Atheists across the web are all over this issue of the AWAKE! because of him. Including me.

Still, I have to wonder, will this be another one of those condescending “aren’t atheists silly” articles? Also, will the Society resort to its old habits, like quote mining, leaving out important details, and generally skewing the facts in subtle (and not so subtle) ways to shore up its arguments? Or have they improved their style since my days at the Kingdom Hall and learned to give readers everything they need to truly make up their own darn minds about “the truth?”

Read on and find out.

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From The AWAKE! Magazine: IS ATHEISM ON THE MARCH?

Is Atheism On The March?I’ve been looking for articles on atheists and atheism from the Watchtower Society for a while now, and I was always disappointed that they didn’t have much to say. They continue to pick on evolution, of course, which many people associate with atheism. But why not atheists? Aren’t we the cool and happening boogiemen of the day? Plus, more ex-Witnesses turn into atheists than with any other group studied so far. With this and the so called rise of new atheism (not my phrase) in the media, you would think the Society would have something in at least one Watchtower or one AWAKE! every year. But you’d be wrong. I was pretty bummed about it … until Cofty at JWD was kind enough to post a link to PZ Myers web site, which addressed an upcoming article in the AWAKE! magazine, called, “IS ATHEISM ON THE MARCH?”

For other ex-Witnesses turned atheists, this might be a bitter pill to swallow. Me? All I feel is hunger … a hunger for more. Waitress, can we have another, please?

Here’s a quote from the article’s first paragraph. NOTE: If your doctor doesn’t recommend you engage in strenuous laughter, turn away now!

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Why I Used To Believe In Ghosts And The Supernatural

ghost dude
Good thing he was wearing a shroud.
I’d hate to see his ghost wang.
::shudder::

I may be a secular atheist these days, but I grew up in a family that had a lot of experiences with ghosts and the supernatural. I believed in just about anything you might classify as “weird” or paranormal throughout my childhood. Especially ghosts, as my family had loads of ghost stories to tell from their personal experiences. It took decades for me to drop these beliefs.

My Family History With Ghosts

The way my mom tells it, she pretty much grew up in the Amityville Horror. Her whole family was kept awake many a night by loud thumping noises. Sometimes they would see ghoulish women looking out at them through the upstairs windows. My grandfather would run inside and charge up the stairs to catch the intruder, only to find no one was there. These events usually happened at night. Turns out that ghosts like it when things are dark. (more…)