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!

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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Intelligent Design???

Three studies at Boston University found that even among atheists, the “knee jerk” reaction to natural phenomenon is the belief that they’re purposefully designed by some intelligence …

The findings “suggest that there is a deeply rooted natural tendency to view nature as designed” …

… in the researchers’ words, “religious non-belief is cognitively effortful.”

… non-religious participants “increasingly defaulted to understanding natural phenomena as purposefully made” when “they did not have time to censor their thinking,” wrote the researchers.

These are snippets from this article. Thoughts?

(More on the subject here.)

Think You Know Paul the “Apostle”? Think Again.

Arch directed me to this article about Paul. The writer totally mirrors my thoughts and opinions.

Those of you who know me through my book are aware of my feelings about Paul. He is such a fraud that I try to undermine his “authority” every chance I get!

Following is the beginning of the article to give you a sampling:

Paul was a Pharisee.  One day he had a ‘revelation’.  He changed his name from Saul to Paul, and straightway preached his revelations about the ‘Christ’ in the synagogues.  Paul continued to have new ‘revelations’ that spoke ‘of’ and ‘for’ a Christ, but he was glaringly silent about the actual life of Yahushua (Jesus) and his teachings.  In Paul’s epistles we find him using the words ‘Christ, Son of God, grace, redemption, resurrection, etc.’, but we learn little or nothing about Yahushua and his actual teachings.  They’re virtually absent from Paul’s epistles.  What we learn about are Paul’s revelations.  Roughly 50% of the New Testament (13 epistles) is from Saul, a man who neither knew Yahushua in the flesh, nor was instructed by the apostles.  Rather, he taught by unsubstantiated revelation, Ezekiel 13:2-9.

Paul considered himself the ‘apostle’ to the Gentiles, primarily because his doctrine (called ‘that way’, Acts 19:9, 23) was rejected by Jewish Christians and the Asian churches alike; and he was forced to seek converts who knew nothing of Yahudim (Jewish) customs and the Law.  Paul’s doctrine was adverse to the teachings of Yahushua; and he was often in conflict with James, Peter, and John; the real apostles.  And by the way, Paul was not an apostle.

Paul spent an inordinate amount of time defending himself and his teachings from accusations of guile, lies, and covetousness.  None of the real apostles were so accused.  Paul’s core philosophy of justification by faith and abolition of Torah Law stands in opposition to Yahushua’s statements in the gospels.  Paul thought nothing of lying or practicing pagan customs if it meant gaining a new convert to his own brand of salvation, Romans 3:7, I Corinthians 10:14-21, 9:19-22.

Paul’s words speak for themselves.  His use of personal pronouns in his epistles (I, me, my, mine) is three times that of any other writer.  Paul urged his followers to follow him.  He preached by revelation.  Paul preached his doctrine in the ‘name’ of Christ, but his teachings were not in alignment with Yahushua’s teachings, John 5:43.

Think this is just one person’s opinion? I urge you to do some research. Outside of the bible, Paul is shown for what he really is by dozens of scholars. Further, whether Christians want to admit it or not, they are following the teachings of Paul … not Jesus.

Texans, Lesbians, and The Briefcase

Watched an episode of “The Briefcase” last night. In case you’re unfamiliar, it’s a new/summer reality show where “Poor families are given money. They can choose to keep it, keep some, or give it all away” (description from imdb.com). The amount they’re given is $101,000. They are allowed to keep $1,000 and then must decide what to do with the rest. It’s a rather fascinating show to me, but reviews have not been favorable based on the show’s story-line.

Anyway, there are two families involved. Neither knows that the other family has also received money. Their decision rests on information the show’s producers give them, which usually includes the other family’s living arrangements, as well as their financial state.

Last night the two couples included a (self-described) gun-totin’, cowboy-hat wearin’, god-fearin’ Texas Republican and his wife, along with a lesbian, interracial couple (also believers) from Boston, MA  with two black children they had taken in to raise.

Naturally, the god-fearin’ Texan was repulsed by the idea that the family they might be helping were lesbians. I mean, after all (as he put it), God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. (How original!)

I won’t go into detail about how each made their decision on what to do with the money, but overall it included discussions about their family situation related to debt, as well as things they wanted/needed to do for their family but didn’t have the money for. A more subtle factor involved was each individual’s outlook on how far one should go to help others that may be less fortunate.

The reason I’m writing this post is to share the end result of last night’s show …

The Texas couple (you know, the one who felt same-sex relationships were verboten) kept all but $25,000. The Massachusetts (lesbian) couple kept $500 and gave away all the rest.

Let me add … both families had considerable debt. Both families had needs/wants they couldn’t afford.

I found the results, shall we say, interesting. What’s your take?

To Evangelical Parents of an Atheist Child

Nan:

I don’t know about anyone else, but I picked up on a lot of “hidden messages” in this.

Originally posted on Life After 40:

father-sonWhat do you do when your child tells you they’ve stopped believing in God?

As a father of five, I want to empathize with you if you’ve recently learned your son or daughter has declared that they are no longer a Christian; or even worse, that they are now an atheist. It’s a devastating feeling.

I’ve been there too. In 2007, my oldest son told us that he was now an atheist. It was gut wrenching. How could such a thing happen!?! We were there when he prayed to receive Christ! We took him to Bible drills and witnessed his baptism with tears in our eyes! He had Christian friends that he fellow-shipped with. But now he’s an atheist!?!?!?

Do you relate to those feelings? If so, I understand. At first, you don’t even want to believe it could be true. I remember wanting to deny it for a while.

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