Thursday, December 06, 2007

My Own De-Conversion Story

I’ve been reading some recent de-conversion stories lately, chaplain's, JP's and Lifeguard's. In their way, they’re helping to inspire me to complete my own de-conversion.

The god I’m trying to leave behind is ... well, please keep reading. I’m getting something off my chest here; this is a cathartic ramble for me. I'd love to have you come along to keep me company.

My god is a god of wrath, one that commands obedience to its will. Sometimes, I take great joy in my god, or even solace, but those feelings are short-lived. Mostly, my emotion is fear: How can I live without my god? Who will then comfort me when I need consoling, fortify me when I need strengthening, spur me to action when I need prodding?

I grew up in a family in which that god was taken for granted. Although ever-present, we never talked about god much. My father worshipped often. My grandmother was a great believer, too. They had slightly different interpretations of their god, and swore by their own choices. As a small child, I saw no difference; I figured that when I got old enough, I’d form my own opinion.

And I did. When I found god, it was a different one than either my father’s or my grandmother’s, similar but not exactly the same. Each of our gods had a slightly different message, and I found one I responded to.

As I aged, I began to read science that contradicted everything I thought I knew about my god. Not only that, but my own experiences planted seeds of doubt. After communing with my god, for instance, I almost always felt awful, as if I’d been betraying myself. Why would a benevolent entity allow that? I also worried constantly about my relationship with my god. Why did I need my god so often, when I got nothing in return? And I began to wonder: have I been misleading myself?

So I became, essentially, an atheist for a while. But I still thought about my god often. Even though I was no longer practicing actively, when I dreamed about myself, I was a believer. And I knew I'd be returning to my god someday.

Clearly, I was not ready to give up on my delusion. A spiritual friend I knew introduced me to a ritual common among Native Americans. I tried it. Occasionally I’d see the light, but it flickered off more often than not. Then, another friend inspired me to seek out the “true” god in its many manifestations; that was a rewarding effort for a time, but it left me drained of both energy and finances. In order to participate frequently in the higher forms of mysticism, particularly when they're well-publicized and have become almost "chic," you need plenty of cash.

So I returned to my original fundamentalism. Various state governments, in the meantime, had made it more and more difficult to worship. They’d passed laws that forbade open displays of my religion in public places. That only made me even more stubborn. After all, many of the founding fathers had the same opinion of my god that I did. Although that god is not mentioned directly in the Constitution, it’s clear to me that many of the framers, particularly those from the South, had my god in mind.

I continued to worship for years, still harboring enough doubts to get more and more depressed about my reliance on faith rather than reason. But I was never able to break free of my basic belief that my life would be meaningless without that higher power.

Recently, I promised myself that I would once again embrace my skepticism and follow my intellect wherever it leads. This time, I was determined to leave my superstition for good. I sought out help from scientists and other rationalists I knew, all of whom had a lot to say. I got plenty of encouragement; but, in the end, each person’s difficult mental journey is his or her own to make.

I discovered that there’s actually a pill I can take, twice a day, that may help me let go of god. It’s not fool-proof; a fool will still find excuses to revisit his or her beliefs. And the pill isn’t cheap, but it’s not as expensive as dropping more than forty bucks into the collection plate each week.

Armed with my pill, I decided to cut myself off from my nonsense completely. Last Sunday was the first one on which I didn’t head for church immediately after I woke up. But by the end of the day, though, I had prayed — more than once. I also worshipped in a somewhat abbreviated way on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, although I felt both guilty and dirty about it. Today, I haven’t prayed yet. I find that I’m thinking about my god all the time; the longer I don’t pray the more insistent my god becomes. But I’m hoping that as the minutes, hours, and days pass, my thoughts of my god will fade, slowly, ever so slowly, but increasingly, too.

I want my mind to be free. I'm hoping for the end of Nicotine. It's time to shake off my Smoking delusion. Tobacco is not great. Cigarettes poison everything.


JP said...

Thanks for the story and yes, I suffer from the same god as you. That has been a battle of the ages, so far my god is winning.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. The god Nicotine is a really tough one to shake. Unlike Yahweh, it is a real entity and its power is awesome. Best of luck on your journey.

John Evo said...

Dude, you are such a fucking great writer. You are wasting time as an editor of words written by other people. You need to be writing (not just on a blog) to make a living.

I was entranced, trying to figure out what your god was. Could it be food? No, you can't put that out of your life completely. Maybe Exterminator is talking about drugs, or alcohol (which IS a drug). After all, he certainly has a deep affection for vino! But, as a child? It didn't seem likely.

Smoking. Of all of your readers, I should have been able to figure it out. It was my god once. Twice, actually. I, like a complete moron, didn't even start smoking until my late 20's! How many smokers do you know who started that late? About 6 years later my daughter was born. She seemed to always have a runny nose - even when not sick. I thought it might be me, and I quit cold turkey. One of the most difficult things I've ever done. 2 years later I started cheating a little here and there. Before long, I was back to my pack a day. I never again smoked in our home, or even in the presence of my girl.

Two years ago I decided to quit again. This time I decided to get help. From your post, I'm taking it you have already tried what I did. It worked for me though. If you are serious and would rather quit, even if it means spending more money than you would with smoking, I think I have your answer. Go out and get some more of the patches and use them. But ALSO, get the 4 mg Committ lozenges (if you are a gum chewer, you can go with the 4 mg Nicorette. I hate gum). You aren't SUPPOSED TO do both. But you're an atheist. Fuck "supposed to"! The patch will curtail your cravings but, as you probably already learned, it won't end them. So grab a lozenge instead of grabbing a cigarette when that happens.

Good luck bud.

The Exterminator said...

You said, That has been a battle of the ages.
Yeah, I feel like it's armageddon here in the Exterminator house.

You wrote, The god Nicotine ... unlike Yahweh ... is a real entity and its power is awesome.
You know what the gospel of John says. In the beginning was the Draw, and the Draw was with God, and the Draw was God.

Thanks for the compliment. I can use the pat on the back today, although you'll have to reach up to the ceiling to give it to me -- because that's where I'm hanging from.

The pill I'm taking is Chantix, which is mega-expensive, but it's supposed to block the nicotine-receptors in your brain. According to its manufacturer, Pfizer, the drug will reduce my physical "need" for cigarettes. Of course -- and the company honestly and readily acknowledges this -- the body's craving for nicotine is only a small part of the entire addiction picture.

Maybe things would be easier for me if my wife always had a runny nose.

Spanish Inquisitor said...

I knew it was something like that. When you mentioned the founding fathers of the south, I thought Queen Tobacco (Cotton was King).

I never had the urge nor the habit. I probably smoked two cigarettes in my entire life. Neither the peer pressure of youth, nor the stress of adulthood drove me to it. I have other vices, like chocolate chip cookies, and believe me you don't shake a stick at them either (what exactly does that mean, "shake a stick"?)

Whenever your get the craving, have sex instead. That'll keep you from smoking, and really improve your relationship with your wife. Or your girlfriend. Whatever.

the blogger formerly known as yinyang said...

Yay! My dad's doing a similar thing right now, but he's taking a knock-off of Wellbutrin to see if that works. And, if it does, then maybe we can see about getting my mom to quit (again), too.


PhillyChief said...

"But you're an atheist. Fuck "supposed to"!"

Very nice. I'm sad that I knew the punchline before reading. I'm wondering how long it would have taken me to figure it out if I didn't know. I'm betting not until the end because this was written pretty damn well.

I never smoked cigarettes. Maybe I should have when I was a kid, then I wouldn't have such trouble finding clothes that fit. Even a 3"-4" stunt to my growth would making shopping so much easier, but of course there's some hope on the horizon with all those steroids in the meat producing bigger and bigger kids.

When I worked "real jobs" I used to rant and rave for non-smoking breaks. Why should all you smoking fuckers be catered to? I'm the one with common sense and will power, so why don't I get a break? I used to just take off. I'd see how many breaks the worst addict in the office took and take that many every day. Hey, fair is fair, damn it. Still, it was always fun looking out a window and seeing on a cold, windy, rainy day a group of addicts huddled together in a doorway outside in the alley puff, puff, puffing.
cue the Simpsons kid... "AH HA!"

Anonymous said...

I started when I was fifteen, and had my last two cigarettes the day I was in divorce court twenty-five years later. In between I once stopped for four years, for one year, for several months, for a month, for a week, for a day, for five minutes countless times.

But it was never a god. More like a slavemaster from the old South plantations.

Come to think of it, it wouldn't be a bad idea to get some of those old bullwhips and apply them to the murderous executives of tobacco companies. Literally and liberally.

And Spanqi, sex doesn't keep you from smoking, trust me on that. Absolutely nothing can stop a determined smoker. I used to dredge butts from the fireplace if I couldn't get to the store.

Sometimes I miss the ex, but the butts - never. It's been twenty-four years.

(Didn't use no wimpy pill, either! :) )

I once saw a group of former heroin addicts giving a stage performance about what they'd been through with junk. When it was over they sat down on milk cartons to take questions from the audience, and every one of them lit up a cigarette. And every one of them said that quitting cigarettes was far harder than quitting the junk.

Good luck, guy. And stick with it, pill or no pill. (Drink lots of water.)

Unknown said...

I'm with Evo on this: terrific post. You do a great job of building the suspense and keeping the reader interested.

While I'm not a smoker, my brothers used to be, so I know how tough it can be to quit. So I'm always impressed by people who even try it. Good luck!

One thing that occurred to me when I finished reading was how easily you could compare the Church to Tobacco Companies! Think about it... addiction... targetting kids... lots of power and wealth.

Pope Phillip Morris...

PhillyChief said...

Once again I remind you all to rent 'Thank You For Smoking'

John Evo said...

Grumpy Lion said:

I started when I was fifteen, and had my last two cigarettes the day I was in divorce court twenty-five years later.

Later on he said:

Sometimes I miss the ex, but the butts - never. It's been twenty-four years.

Dude... you are 64??? Man, I've been living under the illusion that you were about 15 years younger than me (54). Where the hell did I get THAT from?

Ex - regarding the fact that there is more to addiction than the craving... I agree and that's why I say to use the lozenges. They not only hit the nicotine craving, but also the craving to actually take action. Just whittling away at the mint for 20 minutes or so really helps. So, you obviously don't need the patch since you are on the pill. so to speak :) but the Committ can serve as an extension of the treatment.

Get off the ceiling!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic post! Hope you don't backslide...could be bad if you subscribe to the program discribed in a Stephen King story.

My shrinkologist friend tells me that smoking is one of the toughest
joneses to get a handle.

I started smoking when I was 11, neither of my parents ever smoked at all, but most other people did back then, so any smell could be explained. Camels, Pall Mall, Chesterfields, Luckeys, and Picyunes. Not a filter among them. In Viet Nam if you'd been out in the bush for a long time you could smell tobacco smoke a good distance off, and you could tell if it was Americans or the other. On one operation we were completely out, getting a resupply, and a helicopter crew member handed one of the guys a partial pack he had. It was L & Ms. No one was THAT desperate, we did without for another few days.

I had recieved a head wound which caused a seizure disorder in 1967, and we were stationed in Germany in 1978 where I quit. My wife and children had gone to bed and I stayed up to read, I lit a cigarette, put in in the ash tray, turned to my book, and had a seizure. When I came out of it, my freshly lit Pall Mall was nothing but an ash. I'd been warned. In a couple of weeks there was a holiday that both the German and American outlets would all be closed for three days and it would be impossible to get smokes so I made sure I ran out the night before. I made it through (my family did some tip-toeing around me, though, I shamefacedly admit) but I haven't had a cigarette or any other tobacco product since.

It was certainly not easy but it was do-able. I did it.

I did it physically, but somewhere down inside the craving is still there. After a good meal I reach for my pocket where nothing has been for decades. And when I dream, to this day I still have cigarettes and smoke.

Good liuck and be careful.

The Exterminator said...

Whenever you get the craving, have sex instead.
That's not gonna work because sex is one of my triggers. Of course, not having sex is one of my triggers, too. In any case, smoking and sex reminds me of the old chestnut:
HE: Do you smoke after sex?
SHE: I don't know. I never looked.

My dad's doing a similar thing right now.
If his mood is anything like mine, I'd advise you to keep well out of his way.

When I worked "real jobs" I used to rant and rave for non-smoking breaks.
Maybe the company you worked for should have allowed fewer smoking breaks. My boss always let me stop whatever I was doing whenever I wanted. I'd go off and have a cigarette every 15, 20 minutes. Not once did he ever penalize me. In fact, it's largely his fault that I smoked so much. Of course, that scapegoating does me no good, because I'm self-employed.

I once stopped for four years, for one year, for several months, for a month, for a week, for a day, for five minutes countless times.
Yeah, me, too. As Mark Twain said, Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I've done it thousands of times.

I love your comparison of the Church to Tobacco Companies, and Pope Philip Morris. How about Father Marlboro Mann. And Sister Virginia Slims. And watch out -- they all want to shove something into your children's orifice.

Here's what I'll be using for the time being instead of lozenges: Jelly Bellies and Good & Plenty. Granted, it doesn't take anywhere near as long to suck on that stuff as on a lozenge. But, man, I can spend twenty minutes with a toothpick after eating those things.

When I dream, to this day I still have cigarettes and smoke.
I'll keep that in mind. If I have a dream in which you're smoking, I won't become alarmed.

Lynet said...

Okay, I admit, I had to check the punch line before I got to the end, there. The suspense was killing me. Squeaky clean goody-good that I am, I don't think I've ever even held a cigarette, let alone put one in my mouth.

John Evo: Ex - regarding the fact that there is more to addiction than the craving... I agree and that's why I say to use the lozenges. They not only hit the nicotine craving, but also the craving to actually take action.

See, now, I'm familiar with the craving to take action! I usually go for a walk around a block or two. Exercise, you know? It's not so bad a thing to be addicted to...

Phillychief: When I worked "real jobs" I used to rant and rave for non-smoking breaks. Why should all you smoking fuckers be catered to? I'm the one with common sense and will power, so why don't I get a break? I used to just take off.

In New Zealand, as in Australia, it's called a 'smoko' whether you're smoking or not -- and it's scheduled the same either way :-)

John Evo said...

Ex (and everybody), check out this short video.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, well, good luck on quitting. It _literally_ took a heart attack for me to quit fooling around with the God of Nicotine. Mind you, it wasn't the only likely cause, but it helped. Just think about sticking around for your family and kids and enrichen each others' lives. It helped me a lot.

Anonymous said...

Ext, if you dream about me, smoking or not, don't worry about your tobacco consumption, you've got bigger problems, my friend.

I play a hellishly clever little ditty from the time of King James called "Tobacco's But and Indian Weed". Someone had precognition!

In my younger days I have stripped tobacco plants, picked it, put it in the drying barns and such...even back in the sixties I used to wonder how cigs were so cheap knowing all the work that went into them.

DaVinci said...

I'm 49 and have been smoking sinse I was 11. I quit now and then without much problem, just 3 or 4 days of hell. The dreams are always about smoking though when I quit.
I work at a hospital where smoking has been banned everywhere even in the street. You can get fired if caught. So I chew nicorette 4Mg. It gives me the hic-ups which sucks, but you have to do something.

John Evo said...

DaVinci, I can relate very much to your story (although I started smoking much later). I hate unbelievable "smoking nightmares" and sweats the first time I quit.

It was actually quite painless this time though (or, comparatively painless) Usually the hiccups go away as you get used to the gum but I noticed that the lozenges didn't give me nearly as much problem with hiccups and I hate gum anyway. You know, it could be something about the chewing action - opening and closing your mouth, gulping for air, as you desperately try to get your fix - that causes the hiccups. I don't know, but try the lozenges if you haven't.

The Exterminator said...

Squeaky clean goody-good that I am, I don't think I've ever even held a cigarette, let alone put one in my mouth.
Because this is a family blog (yeah, the Addams family, maybe), we will not ask you to provide a list of things you have put in your mouth.

My father had a heart attack at age 39. Right before his release, his doctor told him that he should immediately stop smoking. My father followed that advice -- during the conversation with his doctor. On the ride home, he lit up.

Well, I looked up "Tobacco's But an Indian Weed" on Google, and I found the words & music. There are different versions of each, but here's one in which the tune is appropriately ornamented.

Interestingly, the original English verb for what one does with tobacco was neither "smoke" nor "take." It was "drink." That's how the early Europeans experienced the sucking they did through their pipes.

I work at a hospital where smoking has been banned everywhere even in the street. You can get fired if caught. So I chew nicorette 4Mg. It gives me the hic-ups which sucks.
You should be grateful that you don't get fired for having the hiccups. I hope you're not involved in surgery.

You're really pushing those lozenges big-time. You wouldn't happen to have stock in the company, would you?

R Nicolas said...

Been fighting that same damned god for some time now. He smote the patch, and is putting up a great fight against gum.

Sorry, had to get a smoke...where was I???

Anyway, I am on the verge of getting some sort of Pavlovian shot or something (just afraid I'll become bulimic), because I am tired of gasping for air everytime I get up to get a cigarette.

Seriously--good luck with your fight.

PhillyChief said...

Sounds like you need the Iron Chariot Patch.

The Exterminator said...

A friend of mine had very good luck with laser treatment. It's too early in my process for me to recommend Chantix yet, but you might ask your doctor about it. And of course, Evo will suggest those damn lozenges that he invested in.

OK, I'll bite (althought I won't inhale). What the fuck is an Iron Chariot Patch?

Anonymous said...

Evo -

Maybe it's the thirty-five year old picture on my blog... :)

And of course my youthful wit, slashing intelligence, and general all-around excellence in everything...

BTW, be 63 tomorrow... no presents, just send money, thanks.

The Exterminator said...

Grumpy said:
BTW, be 63 tomorrow.
Another old fart outed here at NMH. You've even got a few years on me, buddy.

PhillyChief said...

R Nicholas was talking about his god smoting the patch, so I figured you need an Iron Chariot patch since iron chariots seem to be like god kryptonite.

Judges 1:19 And the Lord was with Judah and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley because they had chariots made of iron.

Unknown said...

My sister took Chantix and it worked for her. She was a smoker for 33 years. It's only been since September that she stopped, but that's a seriously long time for a smoker. She's been off Chantix since the start of October.

The Exterminator said...

OK, tell the truth. You were hoping I'd ask you about those iron chariots so you could trot out that bible verse. Was it today's entry on your daily dis-affirmation calendar?

It's only been since September that she stopped, but that's a seriously long time for a smoker.
You're telling me. Three months! I can't even think ahead three hours without getting the heebie-jeebies.

PhillyChief said...

Well the iron chariots thing is bible nonsense 101 but I believe you've said before you're not up on much bible stuff so I thought I'd give you the line.
As for how I had it at the ready, I'm the master of bookmarks!

Lynet said...

I thought everyone knew about the iron chariots. Obviously you haven't been reading Daylight Atheism often enough.

Ext: Because this is a family blog (yeah, the Addams family, maybe), we will not ask you to provide a list of things you have put in your mouth.

Does this mean that despite my avoidance of smoking and (usually) swearing, you don't believe I've avoided the Ss entirely? Really, I think you have the wrong end of the stick, there.

The Exterminator said...

Hey, The Iron Chariots would be a great name for an atheist band.

Really, I think you have the wrong end of the stick, there.
I can come up with three or four obvious joke responses to this, but I assume you get the point.

Anonymous said...

Good blog and good luck with it.
I love the bit about being your own boss and the smoke breaks.

Ashamed to admit that I remain an unrepentant devotee of the one truly all-powerful deity.

But Excuse #666: How else would I get away from my work and get to chat shit with well nigh the only entertaining people who work in my building?

Anonymous said...

"It" meant "giving up smoking", btw

Excuse # 789 - smoking is supposed to lower your risk of Alzheimer's. :-) Obviously, this is not much of a gain to offset against lung cancer and COPD and heart disease, but it's a constant comfort to us huddled against north winds, in the rain...

John Evo said...

Ex said: My father had a heart attack at age 39.

Mine at 45. It killed him. Naturally there was more to it than just smoking. He was way overweight (I'm not) and a heavy drinker (I'm not) and his cigarette choice was Pall Mall. On top of that he was quite the hot-head. I'm a little more reserved. :)

Then you said: Evo:
You're really pushing those lozenges big-time. You wouldn't happen to have stock in the company, would you?

It just worked for me. I'm trying to HELP, bro!

The Exterminator said...

Smoking is supposed to lower your risk of Alzheimer's.
Could you repeat that, please. Now that I'm not smoking anymore, I forgot what you said.

his cigarette choice was Pall Mall
That was what my father smoked, too, unfiltered Pall Malls, which he called Pawl Mawls.

John Evo said...

Yep. No filter. The original "cancer stick".

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info on Tobacco's but...

The hiccups. Reminds me of my youth. I never had trouble with it, but in the woods or around the stables I didn't smoke but I used snuff and chewing tobacco. Some of the other kids from the burbs would want to try the chewing tobacco, and before anything else happened they usually got a big case of hiccups. Then came the interesting colors they changed, looks of distress and horror, and projectile vomiting. Sometimes I got the extra treat of watching these persons who regarded themselves as almost young godlings do the 'bazooka puke' routine. Then lay twitching and moaning. Heeheehee.

My father-in-law was born in 1892, died November 1986. His mother had a boarding house and the boarders thought it was fun to give him nickels to smoke cigars and swear starting when he was age five. They wanted to watch him get sick from smoking but he never did, just got a taste for cigars that lasted his entire life. He once told me that when he worked in the shops (machinist for the PRR) if you had to do close work with someone you hoped he chewed rather than smoked because chewing gave one a very sweet breath.

Babs Gladhand said...

Well, don't I have the dirty mind because the whole time I thought you were talking about masturbating. And I was blown away that they made a pill to help you stop jerkin' off. I figured it must be some type of medication that made your hands numb.

Anyway, good luck on quitting smoking. I know how hard it is. It is indeed a horrible addiction. I keep saying I'll quit. It hasn't happened, yet. I have a bottle of pills sitting in my cabinet that I'm supposed to start taking the minute I decide I no longer want to smoke. I hope that minute gets here soon. I read somewhere that lozenges help. Tee hee.

PhillyChief said...

Hmmm, if your hands were numb then it would just help the fantasy that someone else was doing the work, no? And yes, I may be a pervert but I can't take credit for this thought. I heard it recently, maybe from the movie Knocked Up. Anyway, the joke was someone said something about jerking off when your hand or arm was asleep so it would be like someone else... yada yada.

Babs Gladhand said...

Like getting a little strange. But, I meant completely numb. Unable to use your hand. Think flaccid. Which would be the result on both counts, wouldn't it?

The Exterminator said...

You referred to some imaginary minute I decide I no longer want to smoke.

I don't think that minute will come. I want to smoke more than ever, now that I'm on my third day of abstinence. I've just decided that I don't want to need to smoke, don't want to be ruled by a habit, which, really, isn't rational, and gives me very little enjoyment relative to what it costs in health, time, and money. But, man, I still want to smoke, so much so that I'm already not sure I'll be able to give those suckers up. In the meantime, I'm climbing the walls, snapping and sniping at my wife, and eating every snack ever invented. I doubt that I'd find lozenges satisfying, unless they had a crunch or cream in the middle.

And on another subject: If someone ever invents a pill to help stop masturbating, it should be called Jerk-off Off or, in the men's version, Nobeat.

PhillyChief said...

First I was thinking something like those Head On or Active On commercials to come up with a suitable variant, but I think NoBeat would work pretty well. You can do a simple, PG commercial for it to with just suggestion, like having one of those wind up monkeys with the cymbals or perhaps for the holidays a little toy drummer boy and then a hand just comes in from above and slams a bottle of NoBeat down, and the beating stops. That can be the tag line, "NoBeat... and the beating stops"

John Evo said...

Look what you started, Babs.

Anyway, men could never think of THAT as "god". Life, but not god.

The Exterminator said...

I was thinking more along the lines of:

(Scene: two men in a car. The driver is facing the road, of course, and the passenger is looking out his window. As they drive the camera zooms in to place viewers in the passenger's seat, looking out. We see one sexy, scantily clad woman after another. Finally, the camera pans back to its original position.)
MIKE: Could you stop the car for a second, Bill? I need to find a bathroom.
BILL: Oh, Mike. Not again.
MIKE: I'm sorry, but I gotta. (As the car slows down, he leans forward to open his door.)
BILL: (reaching into the glove compartment and pulling out a medicine bottle) You should try Nobeat.
MIKE: Does this stuff work?
BILL: Does it! You don't see me losing control every twenty minutes, do you?
MIKE: (taking the bottle) Nobeat, huh?
BILL: I don't know how I ever got anything accomplished without Nobeat.
(New scene. Same two in the car. A new male passenger is sitting in the back.)
NEW PASSENGER: Say, Bill, could you stop the car for a second?
MIKE: (reaching into glove compartment and winking at Bill) Time for the Nobeat! (Everyone laughs.)
VOICE OVER: Speak to your doctor before using Nobeat. Side effects may include frequent urination, numbness in the hands, erections lasting longer than four hours, uncontrollable rages, and a slight cyanosis of the testicles, commonly referred to as "blue balls." Do not use Nobeat if you are under the age of 5 or over 95. More power to you. Also do not use Nobeat if you are currently taking Chantix, or frequently suck on lozenges.

John Evo said...

Yes, the lozenges are good.

Anonymous said...

Good luck to you! I used to smoke a pack a day +. Quit smoking when I was pregnant with my daughter and was pretty much off it for many years but I still had cravings. Started up again a bit when I worked in a company where all the other managers took smoke breaks...I had to be one of the boys, ya know? But I didn't get really hooked that time thankfully. I think once you've smoked you always have a little craving for it, every once it a while.

But ultimately, it's just not worth it. My uncle basically suffocated to death with emphysema. Kept passing out from lack of oxygen to the brain and stuff.... We all gotta go sometime, but not like that.

Stew said...

Nice post. You had me there till the punchline.

I'll tell you tho' I quit smoking easy as anything. One day I just stopped.
Shaking off my superticious fear of jehovah and jesus took a lot longer. It was only 2 years ago, while driving home, I first said out loud "fuck god and fuck jesus"
The most powerful of the "blasphemy challenges" I've ever watched is the kid who says "I deny the holy spirit. And I'm not afraid"

Keep off the baccy.

The Exterminator said...

Since both you and Evo managed to quit because of a daughter, I'm thinking of adopting a little girl myself. Maybe 19 or 20 years old.

You said, It was only 2 years ago, while driving home, I first said out loud "fuck god and fuck jesus."
OK, now you've got me really curious. Did you yell that when the car in front of you cut you off? Or were you singling out two drivers who caused a traffic jam? Or did you just randomly say to yourself, "Mmmm. Let's see what happens if I say this?"

Stew said...

Ha! the abuse I heap on other drivers is more creative than that.

No, my deconversion was a long process, and even after I knew, logically, and rationally that there was no god, the whole thing was a con, I still held on to a little bit of fear & awe. It was a major step of final defiance to be able tell god out loud to fuck off. Our church was big into the power of words - "in the name of jesus" and all that.

The Exterminator said...

If you've ever posted your own de-conversion story on your blog -- I spent a few minutes looking for it but couldn't find it -- you're welcome, and encouraged, to provide a link to it here.

PhillyChief said...

Holy smoke!

The Exterminator said...

Philly, that's beautiful. What an excellent illustration of the biblical verse:

It's easier for a god to go through a Camel, than for a rich man to put a needle in his eye.

Something like that.

Anonymous said...

I was once a fundamentalist Christian and I recently posted my own de-conversion story. I applaud anyone who questions their faith. It takes great courage to take that first step out onto what feels like the edge of a precipice.

However, even though I describe myself as de-converted, I am not an atheist. I see fundamentalism and atheism as two extremes on the continuum of truth. As hard as I try, I cannot *not* believe in God any more than I can believe in the Christian god.

I do, however, have a desire to understand all forms of faith (and I count atheism as a form of faith, since God's existence cannot be proven or disproven as far as I know). In my sincere desire to understand the atheist's point of view, I have a few questions.

First, do all atheists reject the existence of God completely or is it possible that some atheists have confused God with religion? So often the objections I hear from atheists are really directed at Christianity and organized religion rather than at the concept of a god. I agree that Christianity is man-made and is laughable, but does that really negate the existence of a creator?

Another thing. I have no problem with evolution and the big bang theory except for two things that they do not explain to my satisfaction. Where did the first particle of inanimate matter come from? How about the first spark of life?

I am not trying to re-convert anyone. Part of my "religion" is that I believe that people have the right to believe what they choose. This is even more true for those of us who have tested their faith and removed the nonsense. Please answer my questions sincerely, because I really want to know what you believe.

PhillyChief said...

atheism - the rejection of claims for the existence of a god or gods due to lack of evidence

I'm not sure what your experiences have been imabb to make you see atheism as being like religious fundamentalism. Atheism is a position taken on one issue. No dogma, no rituals, and it's not a religion. The fact that you see most atheist objections aimed at christianity is because that's the face of religion that we have to deal with most in the US. It's only christians that force their relics on government property, take government money, soil our currency and our Pledge, threaten the science educations of our children, the scientific advancement of our nation through issues like stem cell research, threaten the lives of women through objections to HPV vaccine, inflame a world AIDS epidemic by denying sex education and contraceptives, and also inflame a teen pregnancy rise also due to objecting to contraceptives and preaching abstinence which has been proven again and again doesn't work. There are no muslims or jews in the US behind any of these things.

Now despite all that, we don't find the god issue convincing in the least. We also don't accept a god of the gaps, which is basically sticking god in anywhere there isn't an answer yet. This is a mistake for several reasons. First, it's intellectual laziness. Second, once you put a god in a gap, it's amazingly difficult for people to let him go after real answers have been found. Take Evolution for example, or Gallileo's experience. Third, such an answer isn't an answer. You're simply explaining a mystery with a mystery, and that's not an answer.

You say you haven't had the issues of the start of life or the beginning of matter answered to your satisfaction. I have to ask you what have you taken the time to read and what would satisfy you? There have been experiments simulating the Earth's primordial environment where amino acids have formed, which are the building blocks of life. As for the other issue, we may never have a "satisfactory answer" but as I explained above, that's ok and does not require sticking a god in place.

Also, feel free to email me or anyone here if you have any specific questions from one of us or continue posting here for everyone. You should also take some time to visit some more sites, especially some of the blogs written by those commenting here. As you'll see, there's quite a range in views, experiences and personalities. The one constant really is the definition I posted above.

Anonymous said...

And still no answers...

The reason I see atheism in the same light as religious fundamentalism is partly because of responses like this one. You spend half of your words skirting the issue by attacking Christianity (you're preaching to the choir on that one by the way), thereby proving my point that atheism seems to attack religion more than the existence of God. Then you advance the rhetoric of your religion. "God of the gaps"? Then, you suggest I read your "holy book" for answers when I was asking YOU what YOU believe.

Atheism is a religion because it is entrenched in dogma. Dogma, according to, is a religious doctrine that is proclaimed as true without proof. You cannot prove that God does not exist, therefore atheism is both dogmatic and a form of faith.

As far as my "explaining a mystery with a mystery", that is what you ahve done. You say that not knowing where the first spark of life came from "does not require sticking a god in place", but that "we may never have a 'satisfactory answer'". I say this leaves open the possibility that there was an intelligent creator. As far as your "primordial environment" statement, I ask again: Where did the primordial stuff come from?

Please don't get angry, but responses like this frustrate me the same way I imagine that the responses of religious fundies must frustrate you. I am only trying to understand.

Oh, and I have read a lot on both sides of this issue. I am currently reading a book called "God is not Great - How Religion Poisons Everything" by Christopher Hitchins. So far I find it to be so-so because I haven't found any original thought in it, merely a boring rehashing of atheistic rhetoric.

Let me emphasize: I don't want to argue with atheists. I want to understand them. You may never again find a theist who is so willing to hear you out. I will check out some blogs as you suggest, but in the meantime, would any of you care to answer the questions in my original post?

The Exterminator said...


First of all, I don't see how Philly "skirted the issue." That's not a question, so DON'T ANSWER IT. Let's see if you've got the self-restraint not to respond to that.

But, OK, let me take another stab at answering some of your questions. Read these answers and try to understand them (you'll see they're written in English) before you come blathering back.

1. For at least the third time now (one answer given by me at chappy's blog, and one given here, above, by Philly): Atheism is not a form of faith or dogma or any other synonym for "religion" you can come up with. Most atheists will tell you that they do not reject absolutely the extremely remote possibility of the existence of any gods. If solid evidence were presented for the existence of any gods, or angels, or tooth fairies, or pots of gold at the end of the rainbow, or anything else you could make up, many of us would reconsider. But since -- within the written records of humanity's "dealings" with its supernatural beings -- no solid, scientific evidence for any gods' existence has been presented, atheists live their lives as if the god hypothesis has no validity. There's no faith, no dogma, no religion involved. Do not refer to atheism as a religion again.

2. You ask: Does that really negate the existence of a creator?" In your travels through the Atheosphere, you may learn that a negative cannot be proven. I cannot, therefore, prove that there was no creator. But I can look at the scientific evidence and demonstrate that there's not even a scintilla of it leading rationally to a god hypothesis. Can someone like you make that hypothesis anyway? Sure. Is it a valid hypothesis to which others should give serious consideration? Probably not. Why not? Not even the least evidence has been offered to show that it's true. An assertion, no matter how loudly it's stated, how often it's repeated, how sincerely it's believed, and how many people make it, is not evidence.

3. Where did the first particle of inanimate matter come from? How about the first spark of life? I don't know. How dumb am I! Hey, wait a minute: I can invent a god just to get those annoying questions out of my head. I can't offer any evidence for my explanation. I can't answer any questions about where this alleged god came from, or what he or she was thinking before, during, or after creating all this stuff -- if there was thinking going on at all. In fact, the god hypothsis doesn't really clear up the origins question in any substantive way; it just adds a step. But, man, does it make my head feel better.

I understand your objections to the Hitchens book. In fact, I would go further and say that any book on atheism would seem like a rehashing of rhetoric to you. That may be because you're merely reading the words without thinking about the ideas those words are used to convey. Or, perhaps, you're looking to atheist books to prove, absolutely and incontrovertibly, to you that there is no god. If that's the case, you might as well stop reading them now.

Now, imabb, If you're here merely as a troll, do go elsewhere. You've already interrupted a perfectly enjoyable discussion of smoking and other habits. That's what this post was about, which you'd know if you had actually bothered to read it instead of just the title.

For the time being, I'm going to assume that imabbb has a sincere interest in learning about atheism. I've already had an interchange with this person over at chappie's blog, dealing with the "atheism is a religion" issue. I notice, much to his/her credit, that imabbb now refers to atheism as "a form of faith" and "dogma," rather than "religion," so maybe some points do get through. But maybe not.

So I encourage you to answer theists' genuine questions and concerns here, and to engage in constructive discussion. I'll probably join in, too. But let's not have any endless debates, all right? If imabbb turns out to be a troll -- which I think we'll be able to tell from the next comment -- let's take the name of my blog seriously: No more bbb's.

PhillyChief said...


To say I don't know is honest. To say I don't know, therefore a magic man exists is not.

To act as if there is a magic man when there is no evidence for him is irrational.

There are several theories for the start of the universe, some that include the idea that matter has always existed. At least that's plausible within our current understanding of matter being impossible to create or destroy. To invent a magic man in the first place and then to assign him the power to not just create matter but also to have always existed because we can't deal with the fact that matter may have always existed is superfluous thinking at best, absurd at worst.

I'm assuming your are using the narrow definition of "dogma" which is the statement of an idea without proof. I ask you again to read the definition I gave you for atheism. Atheists are all certainly willing to accept this god idea IF substantial proof is presented. As of yet there's not only been little proof, there's been no proof. Now I ask you to look this. You're correct, I can't absolutely, positively say there is no god but I can't absolutely positively say there isn't a Santa Clause either; however, we all tend to agree that it's safe to act as if Santa isn't real. The same for dragons, unicorns, leprechauns and a cornucopia of gods who've come and gone in the minds of men.

The Exterminator said...

Philly (and everyone else):

Imabbb has been asking some of the very same questions on chappy's blog and receiving the same answers. The last comment he/she made was posted at chappy's place well after I'd written and published my previous response, which seemingly didn't register whatsoever. The claim that atheism is a religion continues.

Weighing the evidence, I'd say we've got a troll here. I don't ban anyone on this blog (except advertisers); I don't delete any comments; and I don't mind comment threads that go all over the place. But I'd urge you not to respond to any more "questions" from this person unless his/her comments indicate that previous responses have been read and digested.


The Exterminator said...

Chantix, baby:
Man, do I love spam. You suck; not only didn't you work, but you gave me the shits.