27 October 2011

More Through It

It wasn’t really a very negative or hurtful experience that drove me from Christianity.  Merely observation about what was going on and how all of it seemed phony, or worthless.  None of it connected to the Bible, and the Bible was quickly losing ground in my mind as infallible truth anyway.  All of it just added up to doubt for me; then, I asked myself what I really believed. 

The conclusion is that I believe what I can observe (or better, what is observable).  It is somewhat scientific, but it is my way.  I don’t trust emotions or the things that happen during highly emotionally charged situations.  I’m not saying that I am emotionless, but that I don’t trust them because they can mean so many things and come from so many different stimuli.  Many religious leaders use emotions to keep people coming back.  It is similar to an addiction.  So much that happens in churches would be considered sheer madness if one individual acted that way, but because it is an entire group, it is okay.  I think it is group madness and I was right in the middle of it, as you may have been or may still be.  In that highly emotional state, which becomes a type of hypnotism, people are super-suggestible and if they go far enough they become gullible and eventually are enslaved, either to a person/personality, or an office (i.e. apostle, etc), or a doctrine.  It sounds harsh, but I think it is accurate. 

This is how my first steps into agnosticism began.  I started looking, listening, etc., and soon realized that a deity’s existence cannot be either proved or disproved.  There is nothing to see, nothing to feel, nothing to hear that can be seen, felt, heard by another.  In other words, one person’s experiences with religion, god, spirituality, or whatever are entirely subjective.  Others cannot duplicate those “experiences”.  I might claim to hear the voice of a god, but the whole room full of people does not hear it.  I might say, “Thus sayeth the Lord,” but the rest of the people only hear what comes from my mouth.  There is no voice directly from heaven.  So, directly observing situations and really taking apart what people (especially the “leaders”) said was a big step toward thinking for myself and coming to the conclusion that I did not believe any of it.  The things that happened to me, which at one time I credited to God, I then began to see were either purely coincidental or had some other explanation. 

So, a negative experience didn’t drive me out of the church, but I did notice a general lack of genuine care and concern from many, particularly from the leaders.  They mouthed love, but their lives were the exact contradiction.  This, of course, didn’t make me want to stay there either.  And my family and I did try other churches.  Each had their own “weird” thing that turned me off, but it was ultimately my observations of both the Bible and the church that made up my mind. 

Agnosticism soon became a silly notion in the light of what I saw and understood.  I think agnosticism is a legitimate response to things that can eventually be tested, or to things that have been tested but not completely proved or disproved.  It simply means that I don’t know based on current observations by myself or others.  Atheism seemed a more realistic approach to the idea of gods.  I do not believe in any gods, including the one portrayed in the Bible.  I also don’t believe in Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, or the Easter Bunny.  To my way of thinking, they are all the same kind of thing.  I see them as devices imagined/created to keep people in line, under control, or in a position in which their minds or bodies can be easily manipulated. 

I know I’m talking more about what I think that what happened to me or the progression of events.  It’s difficult to distinguish ONE thing that did it, but if I had to pin it down, I would go, once again, with the observations I mentioned before. 

That’s about all I have time for right now, so I will have to write more at another time.
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25 October 2011

Through It

I can relate to the idea of feeling like something is wrong.  Religious leaders like to use that to keep people under control, don’t they?  I hadn’t really thought of a period of  de-programming after leaving Christianity, but after I had made the choice to be atheist I did read a couple books by prominent atheists which was a kind of de-programming.  They are fairly militant in their whole idea, but I can understand why.  That being said, I don’t agree with everything they write or say, but I now realize that that is okay.  I can think for myself!  I do agree with much and so I recommend them as a way to get a basic idea of where I am.  The first book, if you’re interested, is The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins.  The other is God Is Not Good, by Christopher Hitchens. 

I don't mind telling you how I got here.  Strangely enough, it started with my studying the Bible very minutely.  The more I looked at certain things in there in connection to what I was seeing in the world around me, the more I questioned.  It is also strange that a very staunch Calvinist—Calvin himself—started me on this path.  In his theological work, he says to read the scripture for one’s self.[1]  So, I did.  I could go on about this, but some of the main things were also fundamental things.

For example, my first eye-opener was with Adam and Eve.  God is supposed to be omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient, right?  Well, if he was all-knowing, then he would have known that Adam and Eve were going to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  My question is why did he go ahead and put the tree in the garden?  OK.  He wanted to test them.  Why?  He already knew they were going to eat the fruit.  What's to test?  Then, after the Fall, why did it take so long for a savior to arrive?  I mean this is the creator and master of the universe, right?  Why did it take so many thousands of years to get the redeemer in place?  OK.  Because of sin.  Well, if that's the case, then even God almighty is weak before sin and takes a couple of thousand years to fix what it took only seven days to create, and a few minutes to screw up.  Hmmm…  Also, I'm sorry, but a god that knows that his creation is going to screw up and then freely gives them the opportunity in their complete and total innocence and ignorance to do so, is not a very nice god.  And, if all people born are born into sin because of what Adam and Eve did, where is the justice in that?  Why am I sent to burn for eternity in Hell because of something I had absolutely no control over?  That is not just.  That is evil and tyrannical!  So, if this god is not just, then he is a liar, because he claims to be just.  Punishing people who do not deserve it, merely because they were born is also not love, it is hatred, pure unadulterated hatred.

Sorry, that's just the first couple of verses of the first book and that is mostly my emotional response!  I became agnostic for a time, because I thought about humans trying to prove a deity's existence.  It cannot be done.  But, it also cannot be proven that a deity does not exist.  So, I went on in that way for awhile.  Then, after feeling like I was wasting my time even thinking about it, I just kind of woke up and realized that I believe that there is no god.  This is, of course, different than most peoples' definition of atheism, which states that “an atheist does not believe in God.”  And, it is not simply semantics.  The typical definition begins with the idea that there is a god in which to believe.  True atheism believes there is NO god and so nothing to believe in. 

I'm not a closet atheist, but usually don't just go around telling people that I am unless they bring it up or ask me a question regarding my “faith.”  I guess I want to avoid being responsible for their giving up faith, if that happens.  Not that I am particularly persuasive about it.  I actually don't even think that much about it unless someone asks, and then I can go on and on about it as you can see from this post.  It's not that I even want to go on about it, it just happens because there is like a valve and the question opens it.  This post is me trying to restrain myself from being wordy, and I'm not sure it's working all that well...

There is a lot of Judeo-Christian “stuff,” as well as other mythology, in literature, but it was several years before I was comfortable enough to use what I had learned in writing and thinking about literary texts.  I even avoided certain literature that seemed particularly Christian because I would get angry about the things I had been through.  I then began to realize that most of the literature is just interpretation, like those asserted by all the thousands of Christian sects or denominations out there.  Everyone has their own interpretation and so there is NO single right interpretation, even though thousands of people have killed and been killed for what they believed was the only single interpretation.  What a confusing mess.  Anyway, I’m going to shut up for now.

[1] This is quite similar, in fact to Buddha’s telling his followers to find their own path.
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