My search for god

Christians often assume that atheists regard Jesus as a great man, but that they either don’t believe he was real or else they don’t believe he said and did the things in the Bible. Personally, I don’t care if Jesus was real—or about the events of his life if he was real—because I consider many of his teachings to be appalling. This astonishes a great many Christians, just as their willingness to overlook the absurdities, cruelties, and contradictions of their 3-in-1 deity astonishes me. Even so, I could enjoy attending some ultra-liberal “church” where even the conservative members would make Billy Graham blanch, but it would be for a sense of ritual and community rather than any love of Jesus. In fact, the reason that I don’t go to such a church is that I don’t want to hear about Jesus because of the horrible injustices that have been committed in his name.

I could get on board with some other concept of god—say some quality like peace, beauty, or compassion—but I don’t feel the need to call such things god. I’ve done it though. That’s how I got into the Freemasons and the Odd Fellows. When they said I had to believe in an undefined something that I called a deity in order to join their clubs, I assumed that any definition would do. The rub about such groups is that they actually expect you to believe a lot more about god than the simple fact of his existence (for instance that he’s a supernatural entity that answers prayers), but they don’t tell you this upfront—they save it for a surprise. It also rankles me that the very existence of the god-requirement suggests that a man who believes in god is more virtuous than one who does not. I have never found this to be true except in regard to tolerance, an area in which the atheists have an easy lead, having never killed, maimed, imprisoned, or otherwise oppressed people in the name of atheism, whereas such things have always been a prominent feature of monotheism.

I’ve flirted with quite a few non-Christian concepts of god, but none of them ever stuck. Take A Course in Miracles. I stumbled upon that back in the ‘90s when I was feeling even more strongly than usual the need for an anchor to my life. According to A Course in Miracles, neither matter nor evil exists. What does exist is god, and god is us. It naturally follows that we would do very well to live with this knowledge of our true identity—and the identity of other people—emblazoned across our consciousness. I spent most of a weekend really trying to find some way to open myself up to believing all this, but I failed—or rather A Course in Miracles failed. For one thing, there’s no evidence for it (as with most religions, you’re supposed to believe it’s true before you believe it’s true in order that you might believe it’s true), and for another, evil as an illusion struck me as being hardly less evil than evil as a reality.

I’ve also flirted with Buddhism, pantheism, panantheism, hylozoism, animism, Unitarianism, Yoganandaism, Bahaism, Wiccanism, New Age Sufism, and even totemism. (During my totemic phase, I decided that tree squirrels would be my totem, and I made a point of moving dead squirrels out of the street. This constituted my one and only totemic observance, and I must have done it upwards of six times.) I’ve also read a fair amount about atheism, which, despite what I often hear from Christians, is in no way a substitute for religion, although some atheists develop what believers might call a religious zeal for protecting the civil rights of nonbelievers. To my mind, atheism is nothing. This is why atheists often say to would-be proselytizers: “You and I are alike in that we both disbelieve in hundreds of gods. It’s just that I disbelieve in one more god than you do.”

I’ve heard that there’s a gene for religious faith, and if that is the case, I don’t appear to have it, and I think the world would at least be a more tolerant place if no one did. While I have every confidence that my Christian readers are people of exemplary tolerance (otherwise, they would be long gone from this blog), the rarity of such believers in my life makes me think that their tolerance is a rarity. I also think they are somewhat ignorant of how mean-spirited their fellow believers are to outsiders. If not for religious intolerance, I might very well have stayed in Mississippi instead of moving to the opposite corner of the country.

If you want to see the evil of the dominant form of American Christianity personified, look at Texas governor Rick Perry because that’s IT, that’s what I grew up with, that’s what I took seriously into my middle teens, and that’s what I somehow rejected. It seems screamingly obvious to me that the religion of such politicians could inspire them to commit almost any atrocity, yet America’s fundamentalists, evangelicals, and many Catholics support them. Otherwise, Rick Perry would not be the governor of Texas, and he would not be a contender for the Republican presidential nomination.


Kerry said...

Rick Perry is going down. He has to. I'm not gonna worry about him anymore.

I am also really glad that you moved those dead squirrels off the road. Seriously. That is a good thing, and it always bothers me (about myself) that I don't pull over and do it myself.

Charles Gramlich said...

Many Christians don't live up to the principles of Christianity, but that's not really different from any other institution. Organized religion is a very human thing and has multiple failings. I don't take the failings of humans as being indicative of Jesus, however. I generally find the teachings of Jesus, as is indicated in the bible, to be attractive, although not all would seem to apply to the modern world.

The Elephant's Child said...

I have yet to find a religion I can accept. It appears I don't do faith very well. Some of them sound quite good in principle - but the prinicples disappear in practise. So I do the best I can on a day to day basis. When I fail (which I do often) I try again the next day and don't believe that I will be punished in an afterlife for my sins. Probably because I don't believe in an afterlife.

River said...

I have to confess I don't think a lot about God or even whether there is a God. I'm not a churchgoer or a person who prays. I have read a lot about the awful things people do in the name of God, for instance all those children abused by nuns and brothers in schools and orphanages.
It's kept me away from any religion.

All Consuming said...

Amen to that. The Squirrel God will be most pleased I should imagine. If you have the energy pick anything dead up off the road. Just feels the right thing to do.

ellen abbott said...

I have a very metaphysical new-agey concept of 'god' but I hesitate to call it 'god' as that word comes with too many concrete associations, the almighty all seeing father that is separate from us and intercedes in human affairs. and the whole oxymoronic trilogy/one god thing. and don't get me started on Jesus.

I've said before that I think religion is the worst thing to happen to humans ever. religion does not come from any concept of 'god'. religion is a man-made construct that's all about suppression and control. and killing is the ultimate tool of suppression and control.

One of my main arguments with religion is their belief that any and all morals spring from religion. that's also one of the reasons Rick Perry scares me. he wants to run this government and country on/with christian morals. really? besides the fact that it's against the constitution, no one ever says exactly what those morals and/or values are. write 'em out people. I want to see the list. because as far as I can tell there's a whole lot of 'anti' and not too many 'fors'.

Snowbrush said...

Charles said: Many Christians don't live up to the principles of Christianity, but that's not really different from any other institution.

As the bumper sticker says: "Not perfect, Just saved." Yet Jesus said the opposite: "Be ye perfect..."

He also said: "...the Counselor, the Holy Spirit...will teach you all things..."

And "...the one who believes in me will do what I am doing. He will do even greater things than these..."

Need I go on? I keep waiting for Christians to start raising the dead, stopping tsunamis, ending child rape, doing cartwheels on water, turning Gatorade into vodka, or anything else that would constitute a clear miracle, but I haven't seen them do much yet. In fact, I haven't seen them do anything yet. I don't even see a connection between what the Bible says and how Christians live. For example, if you really "love your neighbor as yourself," then, pray tell, how do you justify, year in and year out, treating yourself to luxuries when your neighbor lacks necessities? Do I not then believe that many Christians are people of exemplary virtue? Yes, I believe that many Christians are wonderful people, but then so are many atheists. My point isn't that all Christians are horrible. My point is that they claim to follow the Bible, yet they are doomed to fail because the Bible is absurd.

The Bipolar Diva said...

You're right my Dear Snow, there have been a great many horrible injustices done in His name. By the way, I'm not not reading just because. See, I have this overwhelming history course this term and I have no time. sigh.

PhilipH said...

I think religious teaching is just a way to control youngsters. I can remember at West Croydon Methodists church Sunday school being constantly exhorted to be good as god is watching you every moment of your life. *He* sees all that you do. And, at age of 5 upwards I believed this. Kids tend to believe adults ... until the penny drops at around age 10. Then questions arise about this all-seeing yet invisible big brother, or father.

It's all complete nonsense; a fairy tale. Yet we simply must not decry the many who DO believe all ths tripe. If their 'belief' is a comfort to them so be it. I am all for everybody having a comfort blanket, as long as they keep it to themselves and don't try to smother me with it.

My sister-in-law went to a Billy Graham meeting in London in the mid to late 1950s. She was *born again*, or something similar.
She soon became a secretary for the Japanese Evangelical Band and went to Kobe almost immediately. There she progressed to being a missionary for the group and spent some 30 years out there, seeking to 'convert' the Shintoists, the Buddhists and any other *ists* to Christianity.

One of her 'shills' was to offer FREE English lessons to any person in Kobe. Oh, but they MUST come to her bible class before the lessons started.

She would call at peoples' houses, like the Jehovah Witness mob do in the UK and other places, and ply her trade as a missionary, offering to 'save' the listener.

She is now back in London and though in her mid-70s she still does unpaid work for the mission.
She has not completely given up on me and my wife. She still tries her best with her "God bless" endings to emails or phone calls. I have given up dissuading her from her efforts to 'save' me and my missus; I just make no comment at all, apart from a non-commital grunt. With Jehova callers I reply to their question: "Have you heard the good news..." with a swift "Yes, thank you" and shut the door.
Like you Snowy, people in power who carry the god banner, like George W. Bush, Tony Blair and many others, are quite scary. It should be part of human rights to INSIST that GOD or GODS should be totally BANNED from any and all political discussion.

Marion said...

Keep searching, Snow. I consider myself a lifetime Seeker and have a deep love & respect for many religions/faiths. I have been fortunate to meet a handful of people who were truly and sincerely godly, who not only lived their beliefs, but were a joy to be around. I'm grateful for that part of my life and for what it taught me about being a Christian. One of them was an elderly blind lady who went to a small country church. She just radiated love & peace.

One of my favorite quotes is this one and I try to live by it:

"Sure, people need Jesus, but most of the time, what they really need is for someone to be Jesus to them.” -- Reuben Welch quoted in "The Body Broken" by Robert Benson

I respect your right to believe or not believe whatever you want, as I hope you respect me. xo

Phoenix said...

This post left me feeling rather confused because you seem to have a problem not with what Jesus taught but by what people have learned from him - two things that are NOT the same. Rick Perry doesn't exemplify a Christian any more than the Westboro Baptists do - but that's THEIR fault, not Jesus'. I believe there are many Christians out there who fight for the equality of everyone, who go to Third World nations to help rebuild lives, who do not judge others in the name of a Christian God and DO strive to love their neighbor better. Jesus never taught people to focus on being wealthy, to be judgmental, or to kill people in his name, so when people do those things, how is it Jesus' teachings that have failed?

I guess I'd use the example of: if you have a teacher who came in and taught a person the correct principles of mathematics, and then the person added up 2 and 2 to get 5, how it is the teacher's fault? Let's condemn the actions of those who go against everything that was taught, not the teacher himself.

Just a thought.

Snowbrush said...

Phoenix said: This post left me feeling rather confused because you seem to have a problem not with what Jesus taught but by what people have learned from him...

I wrote that: "I consider many of his teachings to be appalling," and even then I was speaking conservatively.

Phoenix said: "Rick Perry doesn't exemplify a Christian any more than the Westboro Baptists do - but that's THEIR fault, not Jesus'."

If hatefulness and intolerance were rarities among Christians, I could better accept your argument, but I have found them to be the norm. Jesus clearly had higher expectations of how his followers are to behave than his followers are willing to accept.

Phoenix said: Jesus never taught people to focus on being wealthy, to be judgmental, or to kill people in his name, so when people do those things, how is it Jesus' teachings that have failed?

The Hebrew god clearly rewarded those who pleased him with worldly goods, and Jesus and the Hebrew god are supposedly one and the same, which is why we now have the so-called "prosperity gospel." As for being judgmental, Jesus was appallingly judgment. He was often impatient; he offered insulting generalizations about whole groups of people who disagreed with him; and he promised hell to those who didn't do as he said. Clearly, his teachings are an example of do as I say and not as I do. While I will agree that he never commanded anyone to kill people in his name during his life on earth, he sure did prior to that (if you accept his statement that he and the Hebrew god were one and the same). In fact, he regularly ordered genocide, and he didn't even limit his murderous intent to adults, but to infants in the womb and even to livestock. He was also okay with his followers keeping the "virgins for themselves," presumably to rape. There is no character in literature more loathsome than the god of the Bible, although Christians attempt to polish his image by, in effect, throwing out the Old Testament and focusing on Jesus' warm and fuzzy New Testament sayings.

Mad Mind said...

First of all, I have to say that I almost fell over when I saw the title of this post. You shocked me!

There is a reason I do not go to church. I prefer to be a little more like Thomas Jefferson. I would prefer if someone feels they must believe in God, they should become Deists. Then we wouldn't have to hear about anything.

In some ways I envy those who put all their faith in God and truly believe. They have an easier time in accepting things for what they are. On the other hand, what difference does it make if it's true or not?

My personal opinion is that religion teaches discrimination. They look down on those who are not the same. That is just wrong.

Phoenix said...

Ah. My confusion stemmed from the fact that I do not believe that Jesus and God were the same (his statement of "I and my Father are one" I interpret to mean "as one", as I don't believe that God would take the form of a human and then sacrifice himself and then ask his father [himself?] why he has to die.)

So the genocide ordered and the men slaughtered and women raped does not seem to me to be acts of Jesus, or coming from Jesus (considering that in the Bible Jesus was not alive when the book of Numbers was written, which is the story you are referring to.)

I get what you are saying - but I think my confusion came from the fact that I never subscribed to Jesus and the Hebrew, Old Testament God being one and the same. That concept has never made sense to me.

Punk Chopsticks said...

Lol! All hail this blog post. Maybe it's just a Malaysian thing but most I realize, practice a more Anglican style which gets a irritating after a while. I remember there was this one time where I attended a relatives funeral and spent the ensuing three hours listening to the pastor telling us that all christians go to heaven and all non believers don't and would we like to embrace Jesus while we're at it?

Thank god I brought my iPod

rhymeswithplague said...

Of all the ways you could have ended this post, I wasn't expecting Rick Perry!

I linked to this post in my post today.

rhymeswithplague said...

Snow, you said, "I don’t want to hear about Jesus because of the horrible injustices that have been committed in his name."

I thought of an analogy (and I am not trying to be snarky here). Your father, about whom you wrote so truthfully and beautifully, was a human being with faults just like the rest of us, so I am not equating him with a perfect God, but what if some people who claimed to be SnowDadians were going around committing horrible injustices in his name. Would that make you love your Dad any less? Wouldn't that make you just a little upset with those so-calleld SnowDadians who didn't know your father at all?

All analogies are imperfect, of course, but I hope you get my point.

That corgi :) said...

I "stumbled" across your blog from Bear's. Interesting perspective. Not going to try to change your mind on anything, but just curious, are you still searching or did you give up and call it a day and are you content as an athesist?

I hope you have a good day!


Beau's Mom said...

I couldn't sleep last night and kept my pain company while wondering where you got your blog name. See what we try to fill our minds with when the pain gets too bad? lol

But your post is quite opportune for me today to get something off my chest.

Joe and I are very giving, caring people. If anyone needs anything that we have, we give it to them even if we must then do without. It's just our way. It's just our hearts.

But we got lonely and opened the door to two Mormon missionaries. We fell in love with them as people. Kind. Giving. Everything Joe and I are.

We hunger to have others around us with the same personalities as ours.

We welcomed them into our home. Fed them. Drove them where they needed to go and gave them money.

The Mormon church expects these young people to "go and do" with no benefits to assist them, and WE felt the urge to assist them. We can feel pity sans a religion telling us to.

Herein lies our anguish:

In order to be part of the whole, religions believe they "give because God commanded it".

Joe and I "give because we have empathy and a giving heart".

We want to be surrounded by equally loving and caring people...but to be so, we are told we must:

accept the beliefs of the church.
be baptized.
attend Sunday services.
read the bible.

and where Mormons are concerned:

stop smoking.
stop our occasional beer.
go to the "temple".
wear temple clothing next to our skin to prevent unclean thoughts.

We want to "belong" somewhere where there are others like us.

But the problem is when all the "requirements" have to be met IN ORDER to "justify" being of a kind and giving heart.

We are already there, but so lonely and alone in our attitudes.

It is abhorrent to us that our basic instincts of kindness, love and sharing are looked upon as "less than" because we don't adhere to a religion!

And ALL religions take it too far at some point and have such asinine beliefs that it is imperative to drop your intelligence at the door in order to "belong".

What DO people like us do? We can't FIND people "like us" unless we want to hear "Come to our church! Everyone is SO loving!"

yeah. right.

KleinsteMotte said...

Organized religions are probably the early equivalent of politics, a way to organize a group of tribal people into a more like minded community. It may have served a purpose back then but now it's actually a huge hinderance.
Not sure why we can't evolve into something better but I suspect it has to do with the whole system of law and order that are apparently good for all of us.
Now it seems we need a whole new way of doing things but there are nearly 7 billion people on the planet so I doubt that can work even though Steve Jobs and Bill Gates gave us new tools that link us more.
Today's religion seems to be money and everyone wants lots of it. It is the worst ever problem! To get rid of the monetary system of values would lead to serious blood baths.

About the democratic American election system fuelled heavily by massive money contributions and favours I say, "What a waste of time, money and energy."
No US party can change the direction of the massive world economic mess. Most of the power is now in the hands of China.
Apparently there's a saying in the Quran that the world will end for all when a yellow race takes control. Maybe that will happen?
What is needed is a gene for a much higher ability to understand how things work and another for acceptance of change without blood shed. What's the likely hood of that? We are working with outdated systems all around.

Snowbrush said...

Rhymes, I know that you and others asked questions, but I'm only going to take on Corgi's in the few minutes I have right now.

Corgi said: are you still searching or did you give up and call it a day and are you content as an athesist?

What a great question, Corgi. No, I'm not content with atheism anymore than I would be content if I contracted cancer or my wife left me. Losing my religion, tortured in many respects as I was by it, was still a grievous loss, and it wasn't one that happened overnight or by a direct route. Many atheists report that coming to atheism was a bit like getting out of jail in that it represented the discovery of enormous freedom from a cruel and oppressive force, but I never felt that way (although the form of religion that I grew up with--Church of Christ fundamentalism--was certainly cruel and oppressive). However, if my wife did leave me, or if I did get cancer, or some other traumatic event befell me, it wouldn't to do deny that it had occurred. I've no doubt but what many believers are attempting to do just that. I say this because there are simply too many humongous holes in living a life that is not only faith-based, but is based upon beliefs that are as unjust, contradictory, and just plain ridiculous as the ones in the Bible. I have every confidence that the only reason any human being is religious is that they simply can't find it within themselves to face life on their own. Does this mean that, by comparison, I see myself as possessing exemplary courage? No. I don't feel courageous. Having spent most of my first twenty years being told thousands of time that a life without god is worse than death, I tried repeatedly over many years to do the faith thing, but it was literally no more workable in my life than if I attempted to believe in the Easter Bunny. Now, if someone invented a pill that would give me unquestioned faith and thereby make me gloriously happy, would I take it, even if the resultant faith would be in a deity I could respect--I despise the one in the Bible? No, I had rather have all the angst that goes with atheism (at least in my own life) than to believe in beings that don't exist. So, maybe I am brave, at least to that extent. Yet, I don't get up in the morning congratulating myself on my bravery. I get up in the morning wishing I could content myself with knowing that life is objectively meaningless, that justice is nearly always unobtainable, and that permanent death will end my life and my wife's life in, if we're lucky, another 30 years (which is but half as long as we've already lived). What annoys me is when Christians read emotional sentiments such as I've just expressed, and completely dismiss the profundity of my disbelief. After all, I know more about religion than most of them do (MOST atheists know more about religion than most of them do--see the PEW pole on religion in America), and I certainly know more about the arguments for and against a belief in the supernatural than they do.

Snowbrush said...

Phoenix said: Ah. My confusion stemmed from the fact that I do not believe that Jesus and God were the same (his statement of "I and my Father are one" I interpret to mean "as one", as I don't believe that God would take the form of a human and then sacrifice himself and then ask his father [himself?] why he has to die.)

You're moving beyond the Bible, I believe, although it's certainly your right to do so. In the Bible, Jesus said things that concerned his intimacy with the OT god, and even his co-existence with that god prior to the creation of the universe. For example, along with his statement that he and the father were one, he said that "when you have seen me, you have seen the father." Yet, he also spoke as if he and the father were separate. For instance, he prayed to him, and he referred to him as being in another place than the son, and he shared feelings with him on the Mt of Olive and on Calgary. By the way, what do you make of the holy ghost? The father, I can draw a mental image of, and the son I can draw a mental image of, but the holy ghost? It's such an odd family isn't it, one young man, one old man, and one ghost (all three of them being equally one, equally old, will never grow any older, have never had a toothache, and are beyond death and taxes). Jesus, of course, came to earth and was tortured to death, but to a man with an eternal frame of reference, how long could a night and part of a day seem even if he was in agony, especially given that he knew he could call upon the angels to save him and to heal his wounds instantly if he didn't want to wait a few hours to be in paradise, at which point he would be immediately made as good as new. Of course, being god, he could have simply forgiven us our sins free gratis and forgotten all the nonsense about sacrificing the innocent for the guilty in order to pacify a vengeful deity (of which he constituted 1/3). Or, he could have made a sacrifice of carrots, and then fed these carrots to anyone who wanted a carrot. But no, he voted for gore and injustice.

Strayer said...

I don't have the religion gene either.

And I don't understand how religion makes people any better, although there is some tacit societal agreement, still, that when someone is mentioned as a good church goer, that means that person is better than the person who doesn't go to church. And that's bullshit.

Around here, where I live, the bullshit flies high. Talk, talk, talk, about values and Jesus and all that, no actions that come half close to match up with the high faluting better than thou judgmental religoous words yapping out of mouths so freely.

Makes me laugh. Glad I didn't catch that religious gene. Real happy at least something went right for me.

Strayer said...

When I was a kid, growing up going to religious schools, I was obsessed with asking pastors how in the world Adam and Eve's sons went off and married so and so. I would say, "But where did those people they married come from?"

Nobody could answer that question. I'd say, "Did they marry their sisters, who'd run off? That would be wrong, you know, to marry a sister. But Adam and Eve could only beget sons and daughters, who have to marry and have sex if more people populated the earth."

Finally one preacher told me the Adam and Eve story happened all over the earth, that there were lots of Adam and Eve's created at the same time. "Then why don't you say that in sermons and teach that?" I asked, to no response, and, I'd add, "were they all the same color or all different colored Adams and Eves'"

It was the beginning of the end of my blind belief.

Snowbrush said...

Rhymes said: what if some people who claimed to be SnowDadians were going around committing horrible injustices in his name. Would that make you love your Dad any less? Wouldn't that make you just a little upset with those so-calleld SnowDadians who didn't know your father at all?

I would have to know more about where the Snowdadians got their inspiration for committing brutal acts in Snowdaddy's name. If Snowdaddy was omnipotent and omniscient, he could have made his wishes for peace clear to everyone, if not through the pages of an old book then through communicating with people directly within their hearts. As things stand with the world's dominant deities, the religious groups themselves (with very few exceptions) have consistently condoned, if not encouraged and even participated in, violence. Do you mean to imply that they do this in willful violation of God's message of peace and love?

Zuzana said...

I think religion and its meaning will always be a subject of controversy, as so much atrocities has been done in its name. Yet it infiltrated everything and has a strong hold on humanity in its different forms.
I think most humans have the need to believe in something. If it is not God, then something else, maybe in themselves, in miracles, in natural beauty, in love.
As you know from my post today, I choose to lean to the agnostic side of the whole picture. I believe in the mysterious, whether it is divine or spiritual.:)))
And I agree with you on the numbers, ultimately they might just be my own perception going haywire as of recently. But not knowing for sure is what makes me tick.;)
Have a great day dear friend.;)

Myrna R. said...

The words god and religion are so packed with different meanings. Whatever our concept of god is (even if your atheist) is just a metaphor for something we don't know. I tend to just allow the mystery to be. I do find comfort in what I call a spiritual focus, but I know that has a lot to do with my emotions and feelings.

I do think there are good people in all aspects of life. People's fanatic egos is what causes so much pain, killing and dying.

I suspect I'm not making too much sense. Sorry. I did enjoy reading this post. It stirs up good questions.

kj said...

be careful not to paint with that brush too broadly, snow. phoenix is right that there are many many christians who do good works and love rightly. you fall into that conservative simplicity if you don't allow for shades and ranges.

as for rick perry, i'm still trying to get over george bush w. that kind of paint brush anywhere anytime riles me as much as it saddens and frightens me. i fight back, of course.

now what do i believe about god? i don't know. god dwells within me as me, maybe? i know enough to want to be kind and aware and inclusive and contributory. i like feelimg spiritual. i like thinking i am not really alone.

which brings me to my final point: believing anything simplifies. and simple can be good just as simple can be bad.


CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Snow, you are always interesting and thought provoking! I too am appalled at the acts perpetrated on fellow humans in the name of some god or prophet.

not2complain said...

I am very sad that you have lumped Christians all into a mold...just because someone says they are...does not mean they are.
Remember...the one time, a Christian and a non Christian both know what truth is...death. What do you think will happen if you are wrong? Isn't it worth checking out? Read His Word for yourself...don't take my (or anyone else's) word for it.

from a someone who cares!

Snowbrush said...

"I am very sad that you have lumped Christians all into a mold..."

I never spoke for all Christians but rather for the dominant form of American Christianity, which takes a great deal of pride in its ignorance and bigotry. I will note that it meets with little vocal opposition from the rest of the Christian community.

Snowbrush said...

P.S. " What do you think will happen if you are wrong? Isn't it worth checking out?"

You're referring to Pacal's Wager, of course, one problem of which is that the choice isn't between Christianity versus atheism but rather between hundreds of religious groups and sects versus atheism. I think it probable that every religious group thinks that it knows the mind of god better than the others, even if it doesn't claim to be the "one true way"--as did the church in which I grew up.

Stafford Ray said...

Forty years ago I decided that the only way a religious argument is ever settled is when one side kills the other.
Why? Because, unlike facts as obtained through science, there is no way of convincing anyone 'of faith' they are wrong, and boy, if you can be convinced your god is threatened, there is no limit to the cruelty you will inflict in His name. That realisation started my questioning that delivered Atheism, and my spiritual and intellectual freedom.
PS. Militant Muslims have the edge currently because of the strictness of their rituals, designed to be so prescriptive as to make it easy to 'spot the slacker' and enforce compliance!
Otherwise, Islam and Christianity are not that different, both derived from the laws of Abraham and Moses, split off because of a perceived need to 'do their own thing' and all inhabited by 'normal humans' who live in peace with their neighbours until they are stirred up by propaganda to vilify and dehumanise the 'other'.
My favourite quote on the issue is: "Good people do good things, bad people do bad things. But for good people to do bad things, they need religion."

Snowbrush said...

Stafford, yes, in the absence of evidence to prove what god demands, the only way to decide a religious argument is kill the opposition.

I had read that quote, of course, but didn't know who wrote it, so I looked it up. The source was Steven Weinberg, and there is preceding line that I hadn't heard. The whole thing goes:

"Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."

Stafford Ray said...

Thanks for completing the Steven Weinberg quote for me. I shake my head in wonder at the degree of self deception I hear from theists every day, but there is a good Darwinian basis for its existence, and because of that it will turn up in genetic code, which it apparently has. So, unfortuantly, we are stuck with it!

gary said...

If the bible lied about heaven and hell, then none of us have anything to worry matter what we believe or don't believe. We simply live, we die, we disappear. Seems like a waste of a good universe. Why would a true atheist put up with all of the suffering they see or personally go through. If there is nothing after this life, why not just check out early? It sounds to me like you have been in pain, what with all the drugs you are taking. If you truly believe there is no God, no heaven, and no hell, commit suicide. Then you feel nothing. Right?
I'll tell you why you won't do that. Every human being is born with an innate "knowing" that there is a God, regardless of what you're trying to convince us of. Why would someone that is absolutely convinced there is nothing after this life tolerate the unhappiness of losing a loved one, struggling to get through school, fighting in a war, going through the pain of cancer, or just the loneliness of being friendless? You don't check out because you are not convinced there is no God. There is a part of you that doesn't want to take the risk.
So here's what I say to your atheism: If I believe there is a God, but it turns out there isn't, I've lost nothing. If you believe there is no God, but it turns out there is, you've lost everything. Nobody goes to hell for being bad. One only goes to hell for not accepting the forgiveness Christ made available to each of us at the cross.

Snowbrush said...

Gee, Gary, you're the second Christian this week to paraphrase Pascal's Wager for me.

If I understand you correctly, you're assuming that atheists are more likely to find their lives unrewarding and even to commit suicide. I haven't observed either to be true (most atheists of my acquaintance have actually been quite upbeat), but if you can find some statistics on the subject, I would love to see them.

When I was teenager and still believed in god, I was depressed a good bit of the time. When I really and truly gave up any hope and any pretense of believing in god, it was like a weight had been lifted from my mind. Of course, other problems have come into my life just as they do into everyone's life, but at least I don't have to struggle with that problem anymore. The best thing I can say to you, Gary, is that I don't care if you believe in god unless you go around trying to impose the rules of your god (your imaginary god, in my opinion) on other people.

not2complain said...

I am very sorry you all seem too be against Christianity...I have trusted in Jesus for many years now, and if my choice were to believe or not...there is no question I would do it all again. That does not mean we are perfect (only Christ is perfect until we are transformed and glorified) hope you will just check out my blog...onceuponatime.blogspot
It is about love, not tolerance. Just because a person says they are a Christian does not mean they are...we are all sinners, unworthy
and yet...Christ loves us and went to the cross for us! He was resurrected as we will be also!

C Woods said...

Enjoyed your post ---and always enjoy reading the comments, and your comments on the comments.

I'm glad you are feeling somewhat better ---it would be great if your doctors could find out what is the REAL problem so you could truly be helped. But I guess you are glad of some relief.

A couple of suggestions for some of your commentors:

Beau's Mom said she hungered for like-minded people to be around. I might suggest checking out:
Enter "atheist" or "freethinker" or "agnostic" or "skeptic" in the search box to see if there is a group in your area. In my experience, most freethinkers I know are rather independent and not joiners, but if one feels a need to converse or become friends with like-minded people, that might help one find some nearby.

Also, the FFRF (Freedom From Religion Foundation: has a forum where one can "converse" with atheists via the internet. They also have podcasts of recent radio programs with interesting guests and discussions.

The FFRF has an annual conference, as do other freethought groups.

I attended an atheist conference in D.C in 1982. I enjoyed myself and met a few people with whom I corresponded for years. I would have liked to attend more but was unable to work around jobs or family matters to do it.

Several people mentioned the god gene. There is an excellent video about why people believe in gods presented by Andy Thompson here:
It is 54 minutes long, but worth a watch. And, of course, one can watch part of it, note the end time and start it there another day.

Snowbrush said...

C Woods wrote: Also, the FFRF (Freedom From Religion Foundation...

The FFRF is just the berries. I'm ever amazed at how much they accomplish in the never-ending struggle for religious liberty.

Lydia said...

Fascinating post and comments! What really jumped out at me was something you wrote in one of your replies (I couldn't agree more):
Yes, I believe that many Christians are wonderful people, but then so are many atheists. My point isn't that all Christians are horrible. My point is that they claim to follow the Bible, yet they are doomed to fail because the Bible is absurd.