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’s In A Name? Part 1

Have you heard about that fellow who walked the dusty roads of Palestine some years back? You know, the one raised-handsmost Christians refer to as Jesus Christ? You have? OK, now raise your hand if you’re aware this isn’t his real name.

Whoops! You didn’t raise your hand? Well maybe it’s time for a history lesson.

Let’s go way back — about 2,000-plus years ago. This was the time when a young man by the name of Yeshua (as he was known among his fellow Hebrews) was traveling the countryside talking about Yahweh, one of the Hebrew gods.

Sidenote: according to Wikipedia, Yeshua is a late form of the Biblical Hebrew name, Yehoshuah (pronounced Yeh-ho-shoo’-ah), and translates in English to Joshua. Hmmm …   

Reportedly, this chap performed a few healings, made some wine, talked a bit confusingly at times (parables), and eventually got himself into trouble with the Romans and was killed.

Some years passed, and around 50-75 CE the Koine Greeks began putting together some stories about this rather remarkable fellow (known today as the New Testament). However, their language prevented them from calling him by his Hebrew name, so they transliterated it to Iesous (pronounced in English as “ee-ay-soos”).

A few centuries passed and around 400 CE, the predominate language of Christianity had become Latin. In order to pass on these intriguing stories, it seemed appropriate to translate the Greek writings into the common language. This was done at the behest of Pope Damascus I, a rather prominent figure of the time. The new book became known as the Vulgate, and included events the Hebrew people had recorded in the years prior to the arrival of Yeshua.

When the translator came to the Greek name of Iesous, he decided to transliterate it as Iesus, yet the Greek pronunciation of “ee-ay-soos” was retained. It was this pronunciation and Latin spelling that dominated the Christian world for nearly 1,000 years.

Meanwhile, the English language was evolving, and here’s something interesting — early on, the letter (J) did not exist. It wasn’t until sometime during the early 12th century that (J) began showing up in some obscure dialects of the Middle English language.

The people seemed to like the new sound and eventually, over the next 500 (+/-) years, letters like (I) and (Y) came to be replaced by (J) (e.g., Iames  became “James”, Yohan becameJohn”). Thus, in 1526 when Tyndale translated the New Testament to the English language from the Latin, he used the letter (J) in the the spelling of the name Jesus. This new spelling eventually became pronounced by the general public as “Jee-zuz.

In Part 2, we’ll discover how and why Christ was added to Jesus’ name.

God’s Plan and Purpose – Really?

I just finished reading a blog post that made my toes curl. The writer is a Christian (or claims to be), yet this is what he posted:

Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, Before you were born I set you apart. Jeremiah 1:5

There are no accidents with God; He has a plan and purpose for every life.

At first blush, it appears the blog owner’s post is in response to the tragic shootings that recently took place in Dallas where five law enforcement officers were killed. However, in one of his responses to a comment, he writes that he had hoped the post would be “purposely vague, open-ended.” In other words, no matter what the circumstances, the invisible guy in the sky is directing everything that happens.

For me, there are so many things wrong with this statement and I said so in a comment … BUT … my comment never appeared. Apparently I’m banned, although I’m not sure why — perhaps because any past comments I’ve made are usually in disagreement with the blog owner?  ;-)

Anyway, this is what I wrote and since I think many of my readers feel the same, I decided to share it here.

[Blog Owner], to me this post is nothing but hurtful to those who have lost loved ones in not only the Dallas tragedy, but also in Minnesota and Louisiana, along with Florida and Connecticut and So. Carolina and California and Oregon and Virginia and … need I go on?

When you’re grieving and tears are racking your body as you realize the person you love will never again speak to you, hug you, look at you, walk with you, laugh with you … do you honestly, in your heart of hearts, believe that a person is “comforted” by the words: There are no accidents with God; He has a plan and purpose for every life?

Truly if you believe it is god’s plan and purpose to violently and unexpectedly take someone’s life, then something is seriously wrong with your god.

Racism is Alive and Well

Steve speaks the truth

Class Warfare Blog

The Nation ran an article (Why Alton Sterling and Philando Castile Are Dead by Kai Wright) which had the subtitle “We have too much law enforcement, too deeply enmeshed in our lives, and that fact is making us less, not more safe.” Unfortunately the article misses the mark. No matter how many or few police there are, we have many, many, many examples of police officers treating white people gently, even when they are walking down the street naked or drunk with a shotgun, and Black people being treated as if they were psychopaths. (The latest case was one in which a Black man told a police officer, before he reached for his wallet to show his driver’s license, that he had a gun that was permitted, the cop drew on him and shot him dead).

The reason for this difference is simple: the cops have been programmed to consider…

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Thomas Jefferson, Deism, and the 4th of July

usa-american-flag

Courtesty of BestAnimations.com

On the fourth day of July, the United States celebrates the writing and establishment of the Declaration of Independence. With only a very few word changes this magnificent document was written by one man, Thomas Jefferson, a Deist.

While many continue to contend the U.S. is a “Christian Nation,” it has been noted time and again this belief is incorrect. The forefathers of this great country were not Christians. They were Deists. For anyone not familiar with the term, Wikipedia describes it thus:

For Deists, human beings can know God only via reason and the observation of nature, but not by revelation or supernatural manifestations (such as miracles).

Or, as William Edelen puts it in his superb article:

In Deism, there is no personal God, only “providence” or “nature’s god”

When compared to Christianity, Deists believe Jesus was a teacher. Nothing more. They view the bible as literature (and very bad literature at that), and consider it full of errors, contradictions, falsehoods and superstitions.

Edelen points out how Jefferson himself viewed Christianity:

JESUS: “The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by a Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.”

GOD: “Question with boldness the existence of God… because if there be one, it will much more approve of reason than of blindfolded fear.” (Written to his nephew)

TRINITY: “It is too late in the day for men of intelligence to pretend they believe that three are one… and one is three… and yet that the one is not three… and the three are not one… let us sweep away the fictitious religion of the priests so that they will catch no more flies.” (Jefferson-Adams Letters)

CHRISTIANITY: “I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstitions of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology. Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites, to support roguery and error all over the earth. Christian creeds and doctrines, the clergy’s own fatal inventions, through all of the ages has made of Christendom a slaughter house.” (Notes on Religion, passed in the Assembly of Virginia in the year 1786)

In another place, he points out the marked difference between the founding presidents and our current U.S. government representatives:

Jefferson and our first six presidents would find all of this blabbering God talk today coming from our phony politicians repugnant. They cannot end a statement without saying, “God bless you”…or “God bless America.” None of this God stuff comes from our founding presidents. (Emphasis mine)

He adds:

It was only in 1954 that “under God” was put in the Pledge of Allegiance. And only in 1954 that “in God we trust” was put on paper currency.

Finally, Mr. Edelen writes:

There is no question in my mind that the 4th of July is the most important holiday that we celebrate in this nation.

All of the other holidays, Easter and Christmas included, pale by comparison.

I totally agree.

Happy Fourth of July to every American!

 

We Are All Atheists

 

We are all atheists with respect to Zeus and Thor. (Sam Harris)

thor

And with respect as well to Odin, Hercules, Atlas, Hera, Ares, Mars, Eros, Jupiter, Baldur, Apollo, Hades, Venus, Bacchus, Tiamat, Ishtar, Diana, Marduk, Osiris, Anubis, Ra, Isis, Waukheon, Wakan-Tanka, Cupid, Quetzalcoatl, Aphrodite, etc., etc.

So the question becomes … why is it different when it comes to Yahweh, the god of the Jews?