Leaving Christianity – Oh What A Relief It Is!

Oh What A Relief It Is!Although I left Christianity over 20 years ago, it took a long while for me to erase the doctrines that had been embedded within my consciousness for 15+ years. It was not an easy road.

As Stephen Van Eck wrote on the Deism.com website: “Once sucked into the parallel universe of Christianity, [a person] is too intimidated by threats and rationalizations to attempt escape. Even thinking along alternative lines will induce severe feelings of guilt.”

Writing my book helped tremendously because of all the research and reading I did. Learning how and why certain doctrines of the Christian faith (e.g., final judgment, burning fires of hell, Satan and his demons, the end-times) were introduced into the faith was extremely liberating … and removed a ton of guilt and fear.

I also found out some things about the Bible. As many others, I had been taught the Bible was “God’s Word” (even though the interpretation of what “He” said varies considerably among denominations). Through my studies, I discovered that much of what is in the bible is the result of stories, epics, myths, legends, proverbs, etc. that were passed by word of mouth from one generation to another. This is particularly true of the Hebrew Bible, but intrinsically typical of the New Testament scriptures as well. Can you imagine the burden that was lifted when I found out I wasn’t genetically inclined to sin and thus in need of someone to save me from being human??!?

Contrary to what one might think, the many discoveries I made did not turn me into an atheist. However, I definitely do not believe in a supernatural being who lives somewhere “up there,” who can be manipulated by prayer, or who has a “will.” Rather, my image of “God” is far more encompassing and has nothing to do with religious belief. In fact, I’m extremely reluctant to even use the word “god” because of all its connotations.

In any case, I find my life so much more fulfilling now. Truly, what a relief it has been!

What a Privilege

I just read a quote by Marcus Aurelius:

When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.

Marcus and I think a lot alike.

Rarely does a night pass that I don’t look up at the stars and think to myself how grateful I am to be a part of this magnificent universe, to have a roof over my head, to be healthy, to enjoy the love of family and friends (and my little mutt).

And in the morning … I follow Marcus’ advice.

I don’t know why I’m here on this planet. I’m just thankful that I am.

I know that one day I’ll leave this place. It’s not a pleasant thing to think about … and I may rage into that good night. But hopefully, I’ll be at peace and remember how wonderful, and what a privilege, it was to be alive, to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.

Christianity and Fear

The following is a portion of a blog posting (“What Led Me to Leave Christianity”) that I came across on Left Christianity.

The entire post is worth reading, but I felt this part was especially relevant:

[I] honestly think people choose religion out of fear and then once they’ve latched onto a worldview they only see the evidence that fits that storyline. What are people afraid of? Everything. Death mainly. There is fear that we are alone in the universe, fear of just living with our mistakes without any chance of truly redeeming them. Fear of hell. Fear that has been built into us as children. Fear that is likely wired into us from our early evolutionary beginnings as humans. It’s a scary world – whatever your particular fears might be. Religion holds out a branch and says hold on! We have some solid ground for you and we have almost all of the answers for you! But instead of grabbing onto that branch and all of the baggage that comes along with it – I would urge my readers to look at their fears directly. Realize that some of them are founded in reality (death, catastrophes, loss, loneliness, pain …) but that some aren’t (hell, sin, all of those worries about bad things you think will happen but don’t …). And the best way to face those hard-to-handle things in life is to take a breath, face the reality of what’s in front of you, know you can handle it, and build the life you want in the here and now. And don’t forget to grab onto all that wonderful and awesome stuff that is out in the world while you’re at it! Love, sex, friendship, births, achievements, music, art, nature, conversation, smiles, laughter … they are all out there to enjoy while we’re here!

Brenda writes in detail about her de-conversion here. I urge anyone who is struggling with doubts and/or fears about their Christian experience to read her story.

Jesus and the Big Picture

For those who read this blog on a somewhat regular basis, you know that I often refer to postings on the Finding Truth blog. Nate has developed quite a following and the discussions there often get pretty heated.

A participant in one of his recent postings is an individual who goes by the name of “Kathy.” This person, for all intents and purposes, is a Christian. She appears to believe God is real and the bible is his message to the world.

While many on the Finding Truth blog tend to believe there are contradictions and/or errors within the holy book, Kathy staunchly defends “The Word” by claiming she is the only one who is looking “objectively” at the scriptures in question. She further claims that all who disagree with her are doing so because of their “liberal” (atheist) perspective.

In one of her defenses against bible inconsistencies, she made this comment: “We can TRUST the ENTIRE Bible because it was approved by God. You are focusing on things that are INSIGNIFICANT.. because again, it reveals what is in your heart. If your questions related to contradictions in the actual MESSAGE of the Bible, then I could see your point.. but times and dates.. it just doesn’t matter in the big picture of what Jesus did for US on the cross. (Emphasis mine)

THE BIG PICTURE

At the heart of Christianity is the belief that salvation comes through believing in Jesus and his atoning death on the cross. Few are aware this doctrine was never mentioned, promoted, or taught by Jesus himself. Nor is it addressed anywhere in the Hebrew Bible. OT scriptures used by church leaders today to corroborate this teaching did not hold the same meaning to the ancient Jews. In fact, it wasn’t until (the apostle) Paul developed his theology about who Jesus was and why he came that things changed.

This change didn’t occur overnight. It was primarily through the plethora of Paul’s letters that (some of) the early Jews began to view the ancient texts in a new way. Using his skills as an eloquent writer, a powerful and charismatic orator, and an effective evangelist, Paul was eventually able to convince them that Yeshua was the long-awaited Messiah.

But he didn’t stop there. Since he had abolished the Torah as a requirement for salvation (Galatians 3:10), it was necessary for him to put a new requirement into place that would ensure Yahweh‘s approval. This he did by developing the doctrine of “original sin” (humanity’s state of sin resulting from the fall of man), and pointing out that only through faith in his “Christ” could anyone gain favor with God.

In other words, the conception that Christians have today about “what Jesus did for US on the cross” is based solely on the teachings of Paul — teachings that originated from his reported “vision” of a disembodied Jesus.


“Paul’s words are not the Words of God. They are the words of Paul — a vast difference.”

— John Shelby Spong

Space and God

earth

 

If “God” created everything, as is suggested in the bible (and believed by most Christians), then this page (click on the image to the left if it doesn’t display full-screen) graphically displays some of “His” handiwork.

As I view these images, the question that comes to my mind is this: Why would an entity capable of creating such magnificence be interested in the minutiae of human life? This huge planet that we live on and call home isn’t even visible from the far, far reaches of space. And the human race? We are all but non-existent.

Yet millions believe this same entity sent “His Son” to offer himself as a sacrifice for the sins of humankind.

It boggles my mind.

It Was His Time to Go

pistolGun-lovers simply cannot seem to understand that just because they have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, it is not necessarily going to protect them. This was proven to be true in the recent shooting in Nevada.

Even though the man who was shot dead in the Walmart store by these crazed killers had a concealed carry permit, it did him absolutely no good in the long run. News sources indicate he tried to use his gun on the male killer, but the wife pulled out a gun from her purse and shot him instead.

In a discussion about this incident with a gun-loving friend (who also has a concealed carry permit), he made this comment about the dead man,  “It was his time to go.” When he said this, I couldn’t help but think (to myself because I definitely did not want to get into a heated debate) … if this was the case, then what is the point of carrying a gun at all? When it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go. Right?

Let me be clear. As I’ve mentioned in my other postings about guns, I have no problem with responsible gun owners. I know that many of them enjoy target-shooting and/or hunting. At the same time, I do feel some of these individuals put far too much faith in that gun they so lovingly conceal and carry with them everywhere they go.

And this perspective, at least to me, was tragically demonstrated by the event that took place in Nevada.

As an added note, I think it’s disgusting that the news articles about this event focused almost entirely on the two police officers that were killed, with only a brief mention about the other man (some don’t even give his name). His life meant something as well.

Just Wondering

married

Conservatives are adamant that marriage should signify the union between a man and a woman. They tend to react in horror when laws are passed that allow two people of the same sex to wed. They even discuss impeaching the judges who support the rights of all people to join together in matrimony. One individual even made the following statement about the recent Pennsylvania decision:

 This decision is absolutely outrageous and it reads like a parody. We have moved beyond judicial activism into judicial imperialism.”

So if “marriage” between same sex individuals is so horrific, why not call it something else? Surely someone could come up with terminology that would satisfy both sides and still maintain the dignity and respect of the marital union.

Any suggestions?

 

A Question for Believers

blue_question

What is your strongest argument for God?

Definition of argument:  “A fact or assertion offered as evidence that something is true.

Keeping this definition in mind, please provide facts and/or evidence that affirm your belief in God. You are requested not to cite personal experiences as these are totally subjective. Also, please do not quote scripture as this invalidates the core question.

Ex-believers are encouraged to provide your input as well. What was the determining factor(s) that convinced you there was a God (keeping in mind the conditions noted above) — and what persuaded you otherwise?

CHRISTIANS: Here is an opportunity to reach those individuals who need hard evidence.