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Bex Smith October 5 at 7:26am Report Hi Zane Do you remember me?

I was 14 when we met at the Baptist church on Grand st. in Brantford. Are you still a pastor? You have a beautiful family. BEX (they once called me Becky)

Zane Grant October 5 at 2:26pm Hehe... Becky, of course I remember you! Would never forget. I still remember your cheeks going red when you would debate people on theological issues. I no longer pastor. My theological and philosophical perspectives have deviated far away from an evangelical perspective. Although I still love to discuss theology and such I am much more comfortable dealing in ethical based perspectives that are not dependent upon the 'hereafter'. Mind you, I do give some level of possibility and would suggest even the probability of something I would reference as a non local consciousness. How are you?? Where has your journey taken you?? (I'm typing on my bb so please forgive grammar and spelling. Zane Sent via Facebook Mobile

Bex Smith October 5 at 9:30pm Report Wow, I'm honoured that you "would never forget" me! But also embarrassed that what you remember most is how much I blush when I get emotional. How did I conduct myself otherwise? Did I say anything intelligent or was I a blabbering teenager? The details of my time with the Baptist youth group are fuzzy now, but the overall experience has really stuck with me. It was my only serious exploration of religion and attempt to understand religious thought (motivated by a crush I had on Aaron Smith). You were very influential in my intellectual development and I've thought and wondered about you a lot in the last two years. I want to thank you for treating me like an adult, discussing things, and helping me work through it. Although the results probably weren't

what you were aiming for you were definitely a positive influence in my life. How far away from evangelical are you talking? "ethical based perspectives" - ethics based on what? (I remember you made me think about why I knew things were right and wrong and where did that knowledge come from) "not dependent upon the 'hereafter'" - Do you mean ethics that aren't motivated by a reward or punishment in a supposed afterlife? What do you mean by non local consciousness?? My journey, briefly....I moved to Toronto at 18 for theatre tech school. I worked in Toronto for 5 years. I met my husband in 2005. He's American so we went through the immigration process and I moved to New York City and married him in 2007. I stopped working in theatre in 2009 and now I'm working with dogs. Early 2011 we plan to leave Manhattan and move to another state...probably Colorado. I'll get US citizenship and eventually we'll move up to Canada and start David's immigration. We don't plan on having any kids. I'm extremely lucky in my partner and I'm very happy with my life. I am and always was an atheist. Except for that brief time I knew you I never questioned that. When I turned 25 those fundamental questions started to seem relevant again. I began reading books and websites, people's personal stories, discussion forums. Now I am more confident and secure in my atheism. I've thought about you a lot. I half wish I could go back in time with my adult brain and give you a real debate. But I know that what I experienced then led to what I am now and I wouldn't change it. You no longer pastor, so what do you do? Are you happy and fulfilled? BEX

Bex Smith October 11 at 9:31am Report Hi Zane It's ok if you don't want to answer me. I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate what you were to me. That's why I searched for you. I hope you are well. BEX

Zane Grant October 11 at 2:00pm lol...oh no I will respond! I have just been at work and then thanksgiving weekend with the family. They are just questions that requires more then a simple 2 paragraph response :) I dont use facebook that much anymore but I do check it for messages.

Bex Smith October 11 at 10:48pm Report Understood Sent via Facebook Mobile

Zane Grant October 12 at 6:24pm I should really just connect you to some exceptionally long dialogues/debates on facebook. Although, I am not technically an athiest, much of my present perspectives are drawn from athiestic reasoning. A non-local consciousness would be a consciousness that exists apart from our own consciousness. Amit Gaswami has a great documentary on the perspective. He is a renound Quantum Physicist. I would be a heretic in evangelical circles :) I am not in favor of the traditional perspectives attributed to Jesus in regards to his divintiy. I lean towards a 'god reflection' vs the classic interpretation of the Christian the god of the bible is merely a reflection of those who created it. I think that what the well thought out athiest calls 'that which we cannot know for certain' is what people of religious faith have placed as a measurement of God's existance. In other words the more we do not know shows that God exists (which is ridiculous to say the least) My ethics would be derived from simple societal development through the ages that have shown what is beneficial to life and what is not. And yes I do not believe that an ethical perspective based off of punishment/reward in the afterlife is of any actual benefit to humanity but rather causes more harm to society and its proper development. Our debate, now, would probably be of no need as I think we are probably in agreement on many perspectives. Okay that was a short response on my part but hopefully it gives you a bit to work with. :)

Bex Smith October 12 at 9:14pm Report I'm sorry if I rushed you. Some random thoughts with no concern for cohesive paragraphs: An atheist is just someone who has no belief in gods. Personally I also add a disbelief in

anything supernatural including ghosts, miracles, psychics, magic, monsters, and even souls. Your opinions derive from the assumption that there is no god? This really surprises me. If it's not too personal will you tell me how and why your views have changed so drastically? Has it effected your relationships? Is that why you stopped pastoring? What do you do now? Are you still part of a church? heretic - I prefer the label "heathen" :) "a consciousness that exists apart from our own consciousness." I think that there is definitely an energy that is created when people get together, especially in large groups, but I struggle with calling it a consciousness. A society can be defined as having a "personality" and a space can be described to have a "feeling" but again I can't call that consciousness. Richard Dawkins argues that altruism evolved along with our brains and is a natural part of the development of a social species. More survived when they worked together and helped eachother and it lead to what we call ethics. The ethic of reciprocity (which is my FB religious views). The idea of sin and atonement really bother me because it doesn't promote any kind of personal responsibility. Oops I did something wrong..I'll just pray and confess and everything is right again. I have to say I'm excited to learn of your radically different opinions. Obviously I respected you very much regardless of your religion, but now I respect you on a deeper level. An individual's belief in a greater power/being/consciousness/creator is an entirely personal thing. I have no problem with that even though I lack it. Religion bothers me. It takes advantage of that personal feeling and manipulates it into all sorts of horrific forms. Thank you for making time for me. BEX

Zane Grant October 12 at 10:31pm Our disbelief in the 'supernatural' would coencide to a degree. What I mean is this. Our various cultures have developed ways of describing that which they cannot describe because they and even we, meaning you and I, do not have the appropriate language, because we lack the reasonable knowledge needed, to describe those aspects of our reality. There is validity, I believe, to the described reality, (not meaning it is true or objective) of a person or group of persons, in regards to the supernatural or even 'god' for that matter. BUT

having said the above, a new language needs to be developed and implemented that does away with the archaic linguistics that is so tightly connected with religion and superstitious nonsense. Christiantiy is replete with superstitious garbage that is accepted as fact as are the majority of religious movements and as you say, these movements, whether good willed or with ill intent, take advantage of people. In regards to the concept of a non-local consciousness, please notice the 'may' exist in my comment :) . It is not something I hold to as a foundational belief. It is something I consider a strong possibility. If it is possible that you and I exist by random chance then it is equally possible we exist through a determined creative choice of a consciousness that exists apart from us. Both views hold the same weight of possibility and thus it is only the presupposition that a person decides to go with that determines their view or belief. This view cannot and should not impact ones ethical foundation. It should not change ones treatement of another. (typing limit....posting and continuing)

Zane Grant October 12 at 10:40pm Ethics cannot and should not be based on a god ordained, other worldly experience, holy book of religious fundamentalist teachings etc. Ethics need to be established within the confines of communities working together to figure out how to 'treat one another the way you want to be treated'. The beautiful concepts of various teachers of the past, like Jesus or Confucius or a dozen other leaders of the past is that they came to the same conclusion based on their observation of their cutlural surroundings. Hate breeds war and contempt. Greed destroys communities. Love heals and changes a community for the better. Sadly, people deified so many of these people that the message got lost in the 'eternal'. The here and now, the only true reality that we have, became less important. It lost meaning. It was temporary instead of pertinent. It became more important for Christians to convert people so they would be saved for all eternity then it did to accept and love the homosexual who was different then them. (more coming)

Zane Grant October 12 at 10:49pm How did I come to these views? By looking at the evidence from as many angles as possible and being honest with myself about where I felt the evidence weighed in favor. Many of my relationships are over but I have many Christian friends who still dialogue

extensively with me and whose views have moved far away from evangelical fundamentalism. My marriage almost ended. I left my family for 3 months as my whole world collapsed by the weight of evidence destroying my carefully constructed faith concepts. I became suicidal, hateful, angry, bitter....I wanted nothing to do with christianity, the people i knew. And thus, as I lived in that hateful place, I had to reconstruct my perspectives after deconstructing nearly 17 years of theological indoctrination. I asked a simple question of myself, "If god doesn't exist does love matter. Does my treatment of others matter? Do my actions matter?" And after 3 years of developing my perspectives again I can say that it does matter. It matters even more if God doesn't exist because this is all we have. This is it. My actions impact myself, my family, my community and not to sound too cliche, the world. (more coming)

Zane Grant October 12 at 11:01pm I do not attend a 'church'. I spend time with people I love and who love me. Some of them Christians, some athiests, some muslim, hindu etc. I look for people who want to love despite their 'beliefs'. Athiesm is no less a belief system then Christianity. It just has less to argue about because it excludes the concept of God as 'true'. :) BUT the athiest propositions are, in my opinion, more reflective of our present understandable reality. In regards to religious language such as sin and atonement, I too began to struggle with it but now I am okay with the concepts. Of course, I view them differently. For instance, sin, I see as a developed cultural language to express the battle all of us have inside of wanting to do what would benefit only ourselves vs that which would benefit ourselves and our community. And atonement, utilizing the same line of reasoning, is the concept of making amends for that which we have done wrong. Religous movements merely attached spiritual overtones and concepts to this very simple idea and made it nearly impossible to achieve, hence the need for an 'ultimate' saviour. The reason that these concepts are so integral to most religious movements is the explanation it offers for the desire to do 'bad', the guilt that follows and the desire to be absolved of that guilt. (more coming)

Zane Grant October 12 at 11:15pm

We, you and I, and others, just need to change the cultural language to rid ourselves of the superstitious argumentation while still respecting the people who attach religious overtones to these concepts which appear to be legitimate. Too quote a documentary I saw, "For some people, religion is lack a ladder you climb to get on a roof. But once you are on the roof you don't need the ladder anymore." Some people need religion. I would say the reason why is due to the need for connection. It is not God, it is not an afterlife. It is connection. They need to know that they are seen, heard and accepted. And most of us will allow logic to fall to the wayside in order to have that 'love' that is offered in the midst of a religious movement. What those of us who willingly accept this love don't realize is that the love is not unconditional. It is very conditional. You cannot disagree with their fundamental doctrines on unprovable concepts and you cannot be accepting of others who disagree with your doctrine. This is what most of us would call indroctrination or brainwashing. Okay I have typed tooooo much. My apologies. As for what I do now. I work at RIM working with computers. But my true love is this...talking about such things as this. I think and think and think and when I cant think anymore I sleep and then think some more. I do not read peoples opinions so much anymore unless it is a topic of which I know nothing. I try to utilize my own cognitive proceses in order to think without constraint or restraint. I find that our brains have such an amazing ability to think, why allow someone else to tell you what to think about. :)