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!

‘Liar liar, pants on fire.’

Nan:

Suggest you read this not once, but several times. And if you simply cannot accept what is written … do the research! Look BEYOND the scriptures and see if what Ark has written is true or false.

Originally posted on A Tale Unfolds:

Christianity is (as far as I am aware) the only religion where the promise of a (unverifiable) form  of corporeal existence after death hinges upon absolute submission to the belief in the divinity of the central character, Jesus of Nazareth, and failure to believe  will result in the most heinous (eternal) torture after death.

Just writing that sentence then re-reading it several times to allow it to sink in should be enough to thoroughly dissuade anyone from wanting to become a Christian and should be a trigger to make any existing Christian jump ship immediately; if for no other reason than it is such a preposterous piece of nonsense that only someone not in full control of their mental faculties would accept the terms and conditions of such an offer.

Love me or, once you die, I will torture you for eternity.

And yet, Christianity holds tremendous appeal for a…

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You Say You Believe in “God”

Siriusbizines at Amusing Nonsense wrote the following in a recent post:

At noon, even in a windowless room or outside on a cloudy day, one knows that the Sun should be somewhere overhead. It isn’t because of an unjustified belief resting solely on the faith that the Sun does what it does; it rests on repeated observations of the Sun doing what it does throughout our entire lives.

A visitor (Seth Scott) responded (in part) …

See, this sort of evidence, I think, is very much in line for many of my reasons for continuing to believe in God …

He goes on to say …

In my mind, atheists who assert that my “relationship with God” is actually a construct of my brain are somewhat on par with someone saying, “The sun doesn’t really exist — your brain just happens to hallucinate one moving in the exact same way in the exact same place in the sky every day.”

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As I read this, it once again raised the question in my mind: how can people believe in something that cannot be seen, heard, or felt (tangibly). The sun, at least, is visible and we are even able to “feel” its existence through the effects it has on our bodies (e.g., sunburn), as well as “see” its actions on the world around us.

And when atheists assert that a person’s “relationship with God” is a fabrication or a construct of the mind, I believe they do so because there is absolutely NOTHING to prove that such a “God” exists in the real world.

Superstition Still Rules

Essentially, belief in the Christian “God” — or any god, for that matter — is simply a result of superstition. That’s how it was from the beginning and that’s how it remains today.

Early humans did not understand the constant changing of seasons, the movement of the sun, moon and stars, the storms, dry spells, floods, earthquakes, etc. And what they did not understand, they feared. As a way to help explain the world around them, they created gods. Knowing there was a supernatural being in control gave them a sense of security in the face of natural forces. This is still the case among many tribes throughout the undeveloped world.

While “modern” folk now understand more about the forces of nature through (ahem) science (which some believers tend to discount), many still have a need for assurance that “something” is in control. This is why they “pray” to an invisible being to act in certain ways and why they “thank” this same unseen entity when things turn out in their favor. It seems the superstitious nature of the early humans is still present in our DNA.

It’s in the Book

In today’s world, the concept of “God” is found in a set of books written by a number of different people and put together in a single volume (Hebrew Bible c. 250 BCE; New Testament c. 300 CE) by “church fathers” who felt they knew best about what this “God” was saying. Many believe this book is “holy” and they refer to it frequently as “proof” their god exists. Yet it is a book. Nothing more. Just a book. It has no divine powers, just as its protagonist lacks existence.

Belief = Truth?

Michael Shermer once wrote, “… our brain reasons our way to supporting what we want to be true.” For me, this is nowhere more true than in the world of god-believers. And while this may describe non-believers as well, I have found they tend to use objective and concrete examples to support their reasons why something is “true.”

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You say you believe in “God.” And I ask, who or what is “God”?

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ADDENDUM

Someone once asked this question of God:

“Do any of us actually know what you are all about? We worship, revere, and pray to you but have absolutely no clue about you — who you are, where you came from, why you are, where you are, what your are … or if you even exist.”

Great question.

A Scary Scenario

Just read that some 300 evangelical pastors recently convened in Florida to learn how to adapt their preaching and outreach skills for the pursuit of political office. Their goal?

To mobilize at least 1,000 evangelical Christian pastors to seek government office in order to promote conservative and traditional biblical values!

You’ll never guess who gave the keynote address … none other than Mike Huckabee.

The training was opened with this prayer: “Lord, here we are, a nation founded for the advancement of the Christian faith in the glory of God.” (Wow! He must not have read his history books.)

While I doubt such a scenario will ever occur, as a non-believer, it scares the living sh__ out of me that the Christian majority might actually rise up and make it happen.

Can you imagine living a life where someone else dictates how you should behave? That you might actually be forced to attend church and to worship Jesus? That your personal rights and opinions would be dictated by “the church?” That abortion, women’s rights, same-sex relationships, and other human rights might be removed because they aren’t based on “biblical values?”

OMG, it makes my blood run cold.

One person commented this about the article: “If Church pastors are going to promote ‘politics-from-the-pulpit’, then let’s start a movement to place a tax on every penny they take in.” 

And I say, Amen/A-women to that!

Attack on Religious Freedom — Really??

constitutionI just came across this article: “Christianity under attack: US must do more to promote religious freedom.” It was written by Arizona Senator John McCain and Tony Perkins (president of the Family Research Council) and published/promoted by (surprise!) FoxNews.com.

As I was reading along, I got to thinking about the core meaning of “religious freedom” and turned to Google to do a little research. One of the things I found interesting was that many websites used the terminology “freedom of religion” rather than religious freedom. I wondered … is there a difference? I tend to think there is. To the point that many believe “religious freedom” actually means “Christian Religious Freedom.”

Then I came across this article: “American’s True History of Religious Tolerance: The idea that the United States has always been a bastion of religious freedom is reassuring — and utterly at odds with the historical record.” Although it was written in 2010, the information is timeless … and should be read and re-read by those who believe their “religious freedom” is being attacked.

I particularly resonated with this from the article:

Madison wanted Jefferson’s view to become the law of the land when he went to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. And as framed in Philadelphia that year, the U.S. Constitution clearly stated in Article VI that federal elective and appointed officials “shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution, but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

This passage—along with the facts that the Constitution does not mention God or a deity (except for a pro forma “year of our Lord” date) and that its very first amendment forbids Congress from making laws that would infringe of the free exercise of religion—attests to the founders’ resolve that America be a secular republic. (emphasis mine)

In another part of the article, it quotes George Washington:

In closing, he [George Washington] wrote specifically to the Jews a phrase that applies to Muslims as well: “May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants, while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.”

There are a couple of things that came to my mind as I read these two sections. If no religious test shall be required, why the continued outcry from certain segments of the political society related to Obama’s Muslim background? Based on this section of the Constitution, it would seem a Muslim, a Hindu, a Taoist, etc. could hold “any Office or public Trust under the United States.” Or am I missing something?

I also wondered where the good will that Washington put forth is today? From everything I’ve seen and read, anyone outside of the Christian faith is suspect and more often than not is treated with disrespect and contempt.

Another portion that stood out to me:

Late in his life, James Madison wrote a letter summarizing his views: “And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.” (emphasis mine)

Can I hear an “Amen!”?

Religion to the Rescue

life buoyA month or so back, a local couple, after spending time on the Oregon coast and becoming engaged, were on their way home when they were involved in a car accident.  Tragically, the accident took the life of the newly-engaged young woman. Her new husband-to-be suffered neck and brain injuries and was nearly paralyzed. He has now recovered enough that he’s been able to return to work (finance manager), but has several surgeries still in store for him.

In a follow-up article about the incident, a news reporter from the local paper interviewed the young man. He is unable to remember driving home or anything about the accident. The reports are that he entered the center turn lane, apparently to pull into a small community located off the highway, and crashed head-on into an oncoming car. Some people who happened upon the crash pulled the couple out of the burning vehicle and reported each reached out and grabbed the other’s hand as they lay on the ground. Both were transported to the closest hospital, where the young lady was pronounced dead.

In the interview, the fellow reported that although he’s getting better physically, it’s been much harder to mend emotionally.

And then he commented (and this is the point of my post) that while growing up, life for him was very matter of fact and logical. He felt no need for religion or faith. However, after the accident, he said he felt faith was his only real option. Rather than find comfort in, say, alcoholism or drugs, he chose to find strength and comfort from God.

Such a transition in worldview is not unusual because this is how the religious world paints the portrait of “God” – the helper, the comforter, the one who takes away the pain of life. What most fail to recognize is the power to heal (emotionally and physically) is within ourselves. We don’t need some supernatural power to step in and make it all better (besides, in reality, it can’t).

Certainly, circumstances often make this life a very rough road to travel, but as many, many others have proven (my mind goes to Zoe, Victoria, and Ruth), it can be done. I just find it sad that so many fail to recognize this.

The Latin Vulgate Bible

Nan:

Just another slice of history for those who think the “Bible” is truly and most certainly God’s Genuine Word …

Originally posted on Amusing Nonsense:

Image courtesy of Stockvault. Image courtesy of Stockvault.

The next step in my research on the Bible was to investigate the Vulgate Bible. In my meanderings online, I came across a very informative lecture given at the University of Wyoming as part of its series celebrating the 400th anniversary of the King James Version. The lecture itself is about an hour long, and I shall embed it at the bottom of this post. It contains pretty much everything that I found out about the edition. While the speaker isn’t as riveting as Bart Ehrman, I think she does a great job of explaining the origin and problems associated with this version of the Bible.

Here’s a short version for people who don’t have the time or inclination to sit through the lecture.
When I left off last, the Council of Nicaea had decided on what books should and shouldn’t be a part…

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