This is Not the YJLM because some will conclude that their inborn sexual orientation or gender identity does not seem to comfortably line up with any mainstream religious or god-belief model. Faith by its very nature, means that we are asked to believe in unverifiable claims in place of facts.
It is ultimately most important that you as an individual be authentic to your true self, and that you do not feel compelled to try to change who you are to conform to the mandates of some subjective ancient writings.
The following is one atheist’s LGBTQIA-positive perspective, exposing biblical flaws and questioning dubious religious views, while encouraging rational thinking.
44 Years a Born-Again Christian, 2 Years an Atheist, 1 Perspective...
If there is no wavering in one’s belief that the Bible is the infallible Word of God, then there is no limit to the level of circular reasoning present to believe anything at all within its pages, solely because that’s what the Bible says.
Only in the Bible do we learn that faith is a virtue. Everything else in existence tells us that reason based on knowledge of demonstrable facts is where our focus should be. The Bible is at odds with this, and instead tells us that ‘without faith it is impossible to please God.’ But faith in which version of God or his will? Do we have faith in the god of the Old Testament who told the Israelites to slaughter every civilization before them who were occupying their “Promised Land” or do we have faith in the god of “love” who made his son die on the cross to save us all from his own wrath toward us?
We conveniently have the one disciple, Thomas — good old doubting Thomas, and the account of his not believing that Jesus had been resurrected until he put his finger in the nail holes in his hands, and no one wants to be a “Doubting Thomas.” Not having faith is shun-worthy between Christians. ‘Never doubt, never question, because questioning is like questioning God himself, and that’s bad.’ Any doubt is from Satan. So in these ways, all the fail-safes are in place if we even think of wavering. There is even encouragement to use our imagination to construct our own little world of belief based on our own ideas of how we perceive God and our relationship with him, especially if we think that our imagination is led by God. And then we wonder why there are so many hundreds of different denominations of Christianity on the spectrums of works to faith, ritual to intent, or judgment to mercy.
We basically have this god who makes everything in existence, and makes all of us, then spends the next several thousand years playing hide-n-seek with the very people he supposedly made to commune with because he was lonely. And we look like him, because the Bible says we were made in his image: something that should seem more than a little too convenient.
TV evangelists spend an entire series of teachings pulling apart the scripture: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” and they talk about faith as if it were the very physical matter itself, and all we have to do is believe hard enough and we can have whatever we desire as long as that desire is rooted in God’s plan.
Consequently, if we don’t get what we asked for, it’s because of one of three things: either 1) we didn’t have enough faith, or 2) God said, ‘No, it’s not the right thing for you,’ or 3) God said, ‘I heard your prayer, but not yet, later.’ Based on what we can glean from these three outcomes, there is no advantage to believing or having faith for anything to happen. It’s either going to happen, or it isn’t going to happen. Faith simply encourages individuals to create their own personal relationships and imaginary supplications to God at the exclusion of all physical evidence because they have been taught that their feelings and the physical things of this world are of Satan, and that only the things of faith will last beyond this mortal, temporal life.
The synopsis of this particular part of the indoctrination: physical evidence = bad, carnal, of the devil; the invisible and unverifiable = good, godly, eternal.
It’s a placeholder for explaining an aspect of reality that we don’t yet have a scientific explanation for. ‘Why is the sky blue?’ ‘God made it that way.’
‘Since we have a universe to observe, there must have been a god who made it.’ This doesn’t solve the origin problem, it only creates a new one.
Some cannot bear the thought of having no higher power we can converse with. We are lonely by ourselves, and if we can’t have human companionship, we make our own companion, much like “Wilson” the volleyball in the movie Castaway. We desperately want someone who truly understands us and knows what we’re going through, and sometimes, a mere mortal doesn’t seem adequate. We create a god and we worship it, and then tell ourselves it created us instead.
We long to have a relationship with the ‘one true’ God, but we can’t find him by reading a collection of ancient writings of people who were on the same quest as we are. Through their dreams or hallucinations, by their own imagination or by their storytelling talents, we somehow think we can find him by putting all our faith, not in God, but in the validity of the writings by these Bronze Age shepherds, outcasts, seers, and merchants.
Heaven, Eternal life
If we believe that there is a place where we go when we die, is that the proof it exists?
For some, the thought of our consciousness ceasing to exist when we die, is too much to bear. There is little incentive not to believe in Heaven and many would rather stay plugged into The Matrix.
The existence of Heaven is only wishful thinking because the vision of what Heaven will be like varies from person to person, but each one believes their own version is the actual one. Some even believe that each person’s version is correct, because they believe everyone has their own “personal” heaven.
One person I once knew exclaimed that in Heaven they were going to be a bi-gender centaur with an animal’s head, and because that’s what they wanted to be, then God must have given them that desire and he was going to make them one when they arrived in Heaven. This individual claimed they had no happiness in this life, and couldn’t wait to get there so they could be this being they imagined.
In 2013, there was a 12-year-old girl whose mother had come upstairs to read her a bedtime story, and when she arrived in the girl’s room, found that she’d hanged herself. She left a note nearby saying to her mother not to be sad, that she just wanted to see her daddy again in Heaven. He had died suddenly of a heart attack a few years earlier, and she had missed him.
It is not always a harmless thing to tell a child that there is a heaven where they will live forever and where there is no sickness or tears. It’s not healthy for an impressionable mind to be focused on a wishful future existence, instead of living in the present and enjoying the real life that they have.
If life essence is in fact independent of the physical matter it inhabits, and like all energy, cannot be destroyed but can only be altered, maybe there is some part of us which continues. But there is no direct evidence to support such a claim, and another subject altogether if there may be a self-awareness which continues entwined with that life.
If this life is all that we have, we had better start enjoying it where we are, in the moment, to its fullest extent, and get our minds off of some ‘sweet by and by’ which by all rational accounts, is not in the realm of reality or any dimension.
The Bible suggests that we should lay up for ourselves ‘treasures in Heaven’ which is just one of literally dozens of holy-sounding biblical suggestions which endeavor to keep believers fixated on an unverified afterlife and deny common comforts to ourselves, family members, or friends. Many kings and other political leaders throughout history have sought a compliant populace, one which doesn’t rise up against tyranny. With Christianity, this populace views their earthly life as only momentary, and a foretaste of something better. Being mistreated, or wrongly imprisoned is even viewed as a blessing, especially if they can be martyred because of their faith, because soon enough they believe the Lord will reward them and they’ll be walking on streets of gold.
A place created by a few people to keep everyone else in line.
A fear of eternal retribution and suffering somehow keeps us in a state of “loving” a god who has supposedly promised to keep us from entering a place of torment if we only believe in him. The whole idea that God “loves” us, yet is willing to let us go to Hell upon our death if we (not always by the person’s fault) have not heard of, or heard but not received his plan for salvation, speaks more of this god’s bullying and cruelty — and contrary to the idea of his unconditional love — is something that is in every way, conditional. Someone proclaiming, ‘love me our I’ll torture you’ we rightly refer to as an evil, abusive partner in the relationship, and one which we often try to help a friend be free from when we realize it is happening to them.
For an omnipotent, all-knowing, all-loving God, there is no excuse for the existence of Hell. It serves no purpose, and most importantly, most of our modern descriptions of Hell do not exist in the very oldest biblical manuscripts we have available. The idea of what Hell entails has evolved over time and has received most of its intricate extra-biblical details only over the last several hundred years.
It’s a collection of stories of mostly oral origin, eventually written down by people over several millennia who brought to it their own varied and fanciful perceptions of what they each thought God is like. Ultimately, everything we think we know about God, hinges on the Bible being absolutely accurate since it is the source of all that is written about Jehovah (YHWH) and Jesus. But the Bible is full of discrepancies.
Since the Bible is an ancient work, it is somehow considered true and powerful as if it were written by the hand of God. How can modern books written by any of the most respected Christian authors of today who feel they were led by God to write what they wrote, not be just as ‘God-inspired’ as the Bible? Yet Christians don’t treat any of these modern works as scripture.
There is no audio recording of the voice of God, yet we are supposed to have faith that long-dead authors (some of which even their names are unknown) heard the voice of God and wrote down what he told them to write. The stories have evolved even after initially being written — details deleted, names changed, miracles added, liner notes becoming scripture, and the evidence of this is well documented as we study in reverse-order back through increasingly older codexes. For instance, the beloved scene of Jesus with the harlot when he told the Jewish leaders that if any of them were sinless, to cast the first stone as he knelt to write in the dirt... this account does not exist in earlier manuscripts. The most likely explanation is that it was simply made up — a fable, similar to George Washington chopping down the cherry tree, or of his wooden teeth (which were most likely cow’s teeth).
There is nothing holy about the bible. It is a mismatched, literary hodgepodge of writing styles, contradictions, copying errors (by mostly illiterate scribes), and geographical inaccuracies. It promotes some of the most treacherous, cruel, murdering, misogynist, blood-thirsty characters as heroes and role-models.
He is a composite of (possibly) one real person, and one or more characters of ancient fables and religions.
There was apparently an obscure Yeshua in Judea around 2000 years ago who was a lawless rabble-rouser and was unceremoniously killed. This individual appears to be the foundation of the one who would eventually be known as Jesus, the son of God, only after, through artistic license, he was given godly character, miracles, and other-worldly wisdom. Mix in some Zoroaster from the 6th century B.C., some ancient Egyptian Horus, manufacture some details of ministry which seem to fulfill biblical prophecy in Isaiah, and we have Jesus.
There are no other writings corroborating the accounts of the biblical Jesus Christ except for the four gospels, and a little in the so-called Gospel of Judas. This is perplexing for anyone having many thousands of followers, performing hundreds of miracles: the 5000 who were fed from the few loaves and fishes, or raising Lazarus from the dead; and for someone causing such geopolitical upheaval and spiritual renewal in the entire region during the time of Roman occupation. Yet, his passing seems to not cause even a blip in historical records of the time — it was only many decades later with the first Christians’ proselytizing so many followers into existence, even well into the ranks and leadership of the Roman Empire.
Mark is the oldest of the four gospels but it wasn’t written until around the year 70, at least 41 years after Jesus’s supposed crucifixion. The latest of the four, The Gospel of John is for all practical purposes derivative of and embellishes earlier gospels. Biblical accounts of exact dialog or scene descriptions of a solitary Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane cannot begin to be accurate because of the lack of eye-witnesses and scribes on hand.
The writings about Jesus are just stories, and as with any stories in Judean culture, they were told to their children, who grew up and had children whom they shared of what they remembered, and embellished where memory had faded. And finally, at some point, someone decided to write it down.
Many will point to the existence of morality as proof of the existence of God.
There is an underlying current in Christian teaching which never seems to stay dormant for long which suggests that there is no way to be moral without being a Christian, or overarching, there is no morality without God. It stems from the belief that we are all the vilest creatures on the planet, and that only by the knowledge of God can we ever hope to be able to learn to let God do good through us. Yet we need a list of commandments telling us not to kill, covet, or lie, because without it, we wouldn’t know right from wrong.
Some Christians even go so far as to say that atheists are not fit to procreate or to teach in schools or to be lawmakers, because they lie, or they’ll steal you blind without remorse, or that they encourage incest because they have no conscience and no moral compass.
But there is already an evolutionary advantage to being orderly and chosing to do good, and already an innate desire to treat others in a way that we ourselves like to be treated, as we have empathy for the feelings and needs of others. These displays of empathy have been observed and documented in religionless intelligent species such as dogs, elephants, and chimpanzees, even squirrels.
Morality means so many different things to different people depending on how it is filtered through their own religious beliefs. Morality, instead of coming from God, is often shaped by how people perceive the will of God for their life.
For some, being moral is simply being true to their word, being honest, being kind, having self-control over their anger, not wishing or causing harm to others.
For some, being moral means marriage only to someone of the opposite sex, not to the same sex, and not just for their own selves, but they strive to forbid same-sex marriage for others not adhering to their belief system. The man/woman relationship is the only one they accept as deserving recognition. Morality then becomes a mandate in which others must comply, as if it were a type of Christian Sharia law. With different moralities based on different interpretations of the same Bible, one finds just how subjective morality can become.
The ‘one man, one woman’ model of marriage being biblical, is as if the ‘nine circles’ in Dante’s Inferno were an accurate description of Hell. Biblically-recognized marriage and child-bearing relationships are documented as ‘one man, many wives’ as in Solomon; ‘one man and his own two daughters’ as in Abraham’s brother/nephew, Lot; ‘one man, one woman, and her older sister, and concubines’ as in Jacob.
The Bible can be (and has been) used to argue for the morality of slavery from reading in not just the Old, but in the New Testament, for treating ones’ wife as property, and for stoning for even the most minor offenses.
It has been said that men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. When believers opt for using the Bible as a standard for moral behavior and try to impose its lists of penalties for those who offend the standard, we often witness the results when their innate sense of right is replaced by their interpretation of biblical authority, and it isn’t pretty. The Dark Ages is one example of what happens when absolute biblical authority ruled every aspect of life in Europe from the government, to individual homes and families.
A centrally imposed morality, can be compared to the intent behind the modern saying, that ‘an armed society is a polite society’ implying that if everyone has immediate access to a gun, then everyone will be too afraid to get out of line. The core of being polite has nothing to do with the fear of getting shot, but is based on the empathy we have toward others. If my morality is based on the fear of going to Hell when I die or facing the wrath of God during my life if I get out of line, where then is the sincerity of my morality? If I feel as though I’m going to get a heavenly reward if I help someone in need, isn’t the motivation then to receive that reward, and not in helping the person simply because it is the right thing to do? If an atheist anonymously helps in a situation where they either don’t expect reward if they do, or a penalty if they don’t, isn’t that more authentic than when a Christian helps in that same situation solely because they believe God is watching?
A dog, elephant, chimpanzee, or squirrel do not need a god-knowledge or religion for them to display empathy, and neither do we.
It is half meditation and half talking to one’s self.
Meditation has positive relaxing benefits, and the act of one talking to themselves can be a help to figure out details and align them in one’s mind. You come away feeling better, with heightened clarity, and so it is not far-fetched for a person to believe they have communed with God.
Prayer is superfluous if we already have a God who loves us and knows what we need. Yet there is the scripture fragment: ‘You have not because you ask not’ as if God is going to let us step on a landmine without warning us, then after we do says, ‘well, what do you expect? You didn’t ask for my help.’ A whole community of people were drowned by a flood or buried in lava because there weren’t an adequate number of people praying for a disaster to be averted? An all-loving, all-knowing god is going to already be doing the right thing and not be influenced to change course depending on who and how many pray for something to happen. Neither does it make sense that he is some type of cosmic vending machine who doesn’t do anything unless people pray.
Picture two opposing sides of a war, each praying for victory and each that his name be exalted. Who wins, and who loses? How can he rightly choose to favor one while abandoning the other when they both pray and believe just as sincerely?
If it were possible to heal with prayer, medical doctors would be interested in its effects and would implement it in their procedures. But there is little advantage to prayer in medical care except where the surgeon might feel more relaxed before beginning surgery because of the centering effects of meditation and aligning one’s thoughts that is often a component of prayer as described earlier. For these same reasons, there might also be a benefit for the patient after they have knowingly received or taken part in prayer. But it is all about the mind/body connection that is rooted in what is known as the placebo effect. There might be less pain, there might be more energy, there might even be a shortened recovery time, but these are all linked to this same effect. Maintaining our wellbeing is often rooted in a positive attitude, the will to live, and the will to get better. If people want to believe God answered prayer, then for them, the prayer worked and a miracle was performed. It is near impossible to convince them otherwise if they experience this effect. And so, people pray, but it’s their own mind and body which are making the difference.
The problems come when medical care is replaced by prayer. People die from some of the most easily-corrected illnesses and injuries. And then when they die, believers often call their death the will of God.
The idea is very appealing that there might be ancient writings pointing to specific things still to happen in the near future, and of course we want to know the “signs” when we are close, so that we can prepare for what is coming next.
The first thing to do is to figure out what prophecies have already been fulfilled so that we can get some indication of where we are on the timeline. We go to an expert: a prophecy teacher who is hopefully able to show us in layman’s terms what has taken place, and how those things line us up for the next events.
What we often get is a huge chart with seemingly never-ending cross-references from scriptures in the Old Testament, to ones in the New with intersecting lines and arrows, and the ‘70 weeks of Daniel’ which supposedly line up to seals and candles and trumpets in The Book of Revelation, add in a liberal amount of numerology for good measure which seems to confirm other scripture fragments pasted here and there.
We come away excited, but feeling more confused than we were before, and we are sure the confusion is only because we haven’t been studying this stuff for as long as this expert has. So we accept it, and try to remember even fragmented details from our encounter to share with others so they can experience the same excitement as we.
We still hear a lot about the European Union as being the reunification of the Roman Empire, though this stuff has been taught since the early 1980’s when the EU member countries were different than they are now. And every time a new country is added or an old one is removed, a respected television prophecy teacher like Jack Van Impe excitedly exclaims, ‘this is exactly what was predicted.’ But once the number of countries become too high for their theory to work, or a key country is removed from the EU, they produce a new episode, and they’re even more excited because they have a new revelation of what God just shared with them to explain why this is the ‘actual’ fulfillment, where before, they didn’t have the whole story. They end up having a new biblical theory every time, no matter the outcome.
There’s Pastor John Hagee with his “Four Blood Moons” from a few years back who sold thousands of videos and books on the subject and got so many tens of thousands of people to watch his show on Sundays with his huge big-screen presentation behind the pulpit. His followers were hanging on his every word that something great was about to happen. Each of the 4 blood moons came and went just as science said they would. Nothing happened. But he cashed in, and his followers forgot about the ‘blood moons’ because they were all moved on to the next big thing.
Over the years, from various prophecy “experts,” it’s been debit cards transitioning into the ‘Mark of the Beast,’ North Korea delivering an EM pulse to take out our cars and electrical grids, or Obama as the Antichrist, to name just a few.
I Thessalonians 4:16-17 ~
An entire doctrine and fervent belief known as “The Rapture” is based on these mere four lines hidden in a personal letter to a Christian cell group that met in someone’s home around 50 AD. But the doctrine itself is very recent, a concept invented by John Darby in 1830, and made famous by Billy Sunday in the early 1930’s. (Billy is also often credited for the invention of the sinner’s prayer.)
Prophecy teachers through the decades have tried to pinpoint when the Rapture would occur through study of other prophecies apparently dealing with the “end times” of apocalyptic famines and wars, the supposed reunification of the Roman Empire, and the revealing of the False Prophet and the Anti-christ. The two most common placements for the event is either “pre-trib” or “mid-trib” with the second coming of Jesus happening “post-trib” or at the end of the “7-year Tribulation Period.” Further intricacies of making biblical weeks equal actual years, and the addition of more scripture from random places in the Bible, no less than 18 separate dates have been set, which have each come and gone without anyone being raptured, the most recent of which was September 23, 2017. We’re taking bets that the next one: June 24, 2018 will be the actual date though.
It is man-made wishful thinking that we’re not alone and won’t cease to exist when we die. Aptly named ‘the opiate of the masses’ by Karl Marx, religion supposedly gives a meaning to life that we tend to believe doesn’t exist without it.
Religion tends to link together a culture by race, history, or ancestry. It’s a comfort to know others of your tribe also practice the same religion and feel many of the same ways about life and relationships as you. This may be true even for cultures who are not particularly god-believers, or who don’t believe in a ‘personal’ god — anything more than ‘the universe’ as if god will always be an unknowable, or ‘god’ as an idea rather than an actual being.
Some of the staunchest believers ascribing to a particular religion will almost always believe that theirs is the ‘one true’ religion, and that all the rest are either incomplete, or immoral, or counterfeit, or a cult. Many will take pride in their religion and will even thank their god that they worship the right way. But ‘right’ has little to do with it and almost everything to do with geography — what continent they were born on, independent of anything they chose or that a god chose for them. A proud Southern Baptist in the US would have had little hope of being a Southern Baptist if they were instead born in India and raised as Hindu. A person is likely to follow the religion they were born into at the exclusion of all others. There is often little reason to question their own religious beliefs if it is the means by which they relate to others in their family or community.
Only some of the more liberal followers of any religion will tend to believe people outside of their religion will be allowed to go to their version of heaven when they die, like they will.
Basically, we’re all born into sin because of Adam — even the most innocent baby. We all have need of a savior or else we’re going to Hell when we die. Jesus is that savior.
Before Jesus, God was appeased by the blood of innocent animals who were sacrificed on an altar. In this way, the Israelites’ sin was atoned for, but it inexplicably had to be done over and over again because God needs innocent blood — lots and lots of it. And this daily senseless killing kept God from flipping out and slaughtering every last one of his chosen people. This is how it was done for many hundreds of years by the priests among the Israelites, until Jesus was supposedly born of a virgin, then he grew up, performed miracles and preached, and he had a lot of followers. But the “real” secret reason why he was sent to Earth was so he could be crucified on a cross and die for all our sins for all time.
Jesus is/was the son of God. In some biblical instances he’s called God himself. He’s described as the Word, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” which begins the Gospel of John. So Jesus is this God/man who was then sacrificed, to save us from God’s wrath, and by us believing he died and then was resurrected, we are saved from our sins.
Basically, God killed himself, then raised himself from the dead, to save us from himself, because he loves us. I’m amazed I never got whiplash from that brain twister, but like everything else in my former Christian faith, I accepted it as fact and if anything seemed a little weird, I’d just put it out of my mind or spiritually slap myself in the face for daring to question the wisdom of God. And I had the comfort of so many hundreds of others around me who also believed every bit of this salvation story, so this all just reinforced the seeming reality of it. And because it represents the very core of all Christian teaching, above all, this is the main thing that can never be questioned.
Of course, there’s the obvious question: what about babies or children who die and are too young to understand and receive salvation? For that, we had to manufacture the extra-biblical solution: ‘the age of accountability’ describing an arbitrary age of anywhere from 4, up to 16, depending on the Christian denomination and who happened to be preaching on a given day. Again, not based on anything other than just a feeling, or what God supposedly dropped in their heart when they questioned it themselves. Die before that magical age, and you’re in.
But here’s the thing: either we’re born into sin, or we’re not, and this implies that God either gives some a pass, or he asks some as a last chance after they die if they want to receive salvation. Another obvious question is what about the mentally impaired? Do they have a higher ’age of accountability’ than the average person, or do they get a pass for life? Were they not born into sin like everyone else? What about the remote village deep in a rainforest where no missionary has ever been? They have no knowledge of being born into sin and even less inkling there might be a plan of salvation. Do they just go straight to Hell, or does the missionary who disobeyed God’s call and didn’t go, bear the brunt of their penalty for not sharing with them the ‘good news’ of the gospel?
If this Jesus truly died for EVERYONE: “For God so loved the WORLD ...that WHOSOEVER...” but some miss out because their coupon expired, or it got lost in the mail, or they dropped it on the way to the store, the whole system is patently unfair, unless salvation itself is universal, given to everyone, whether we hear about it or not.
Speaking in Tongues
They are sounds that you make with your own vocal cords and mouth, and you are taught that it’s the Holy Spirit speaking through you. And then you feel special and that you’re advanced beyond mere baby Christians because you have the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the ‘evidence of speaking in tongues.’
How you receive: You’ve heard people in church speaking in tongues; you seek it for yourself; you have a minister pray with you, and they have you start speaking; you begin to do it to the best of your ability, emulating what you’ve heard others do; the person praying with you says excitedly, “That’s it, that’s it, just keep practicing...” and there you go.
There are no special powers, there’s no evidence of anything at all. But on the up side, you can make the same sounds with others in the church who also believe they’re speaking in tongues. So, it makes for an interesting clique of prayer warriors who supposedly keep the church safe from the forces of evil. And that rush and tickle feeling whenever you pray like that... it’s not the Holy Spirit in your tummy. It’s just you, feeling pride in your new ability and that God has anointed you for a higher calling of ministry.
And I just committed the unpardonable sin, which is ‘blasphemy against the Holy Spirit’ so I’m going straight to Hell when I die ...that’s what the people who know about this stuff, say and warn others of. ‘Don’t blaspheme the Holy Spirit! ... unpardonable sin you know.’
Like anything else in Christendom, there is strength in numbers. There are a lot of fellow Christians saying and believing the same things, and there is a lot of encouragement to stay on the straight and narrow and not waver in your faith.
In conclusion, once I removed the most absurd details of Christianity (likely the same for any religion) I realized I didn’t have enough left over to hold the remaining tenuous pieces together.
When at most 10% of preachers of the gospel of your faith haven’t been found committing adultery while simultaneously preaching against infidelity, or haven’t been discovered embezzling their congregation’s offerings, or haven’t preached against prostitution immediately prior to being unfaithful to their spouses, or haven’t called for the stoning or deportation of gay people then being convicted of pedophilia, or haven’t preached that AIDS or hurricanes are God’s judgment, or haven’t endorsed a presidential candidate from their pulpit while their ministry remains tax-exempt, then there is a problem with the entire culture of that religion. It’s no longer an isolated bad apple when you have to search long and hard in the most obscure corners for sincerity, humility, or inclusion. It’s time to just admit that there is nothing of any real value, and if God is no more capable than this of tending to his Body of Christ, then he must not be omniscient or omnipotent, seems to be indifferent to human suffering and probably not worthy of anyone’s worship; or ultimately, that he doesn’t exist.
I would like nothing better than for people everywhere to begin living their own lives, realizing they don’t have some Jesus-shaped hole in their heart, and that they’re complete in themselves without God-belief.
I would like to see churches, synagogues, and mosques everywhere, repurposed as community centers, food pantries, homeless shelters, concert and theater venues, museums, libraries, schools, and art galleries.
I would like to see good people finally stop fighting with their neighbors and family members over some religiously-held belief in any number of topics they feel they must uphold, or risk seeming like they’re condoning sin.
I would like to see people stop giving a tenth of their income, interrupting the proselytizing to ever more people, and the paying for their pastor’s new $75,000 luxury SUV they’re not allowed to park next to, while they drive to church in a 20-year old rust bucket.
I would like to see parents stop disowning their sons and daughters when they’re being honest and coming out, and forcing them out of the house, and realize that there is no such thing as “tough love” that there is only love, and there is no god who is going to look out for them and keep them safe on the street while they’re supposedly learning their lesson. You were the only family they had and you adhering to your religion might end up killing them.
I wish that there would be no more people lose their lives in violent attacks over who’s god is best as if it were some schoolyard argument about who’s the best superhero. I wish that there were no more wars fought over some supposed god-given homeland, that everyone would learn to share land and its resources with their neighbors and to coexist.
I wish people everywhere could experience the freedom of being out from under a god-conscious mindset; be free from feeling like you’re not good enough, or not spiritual enough, or always questioning if you’ve made the right decisions according to someone’s interpretation of a deity’s will, or beating yourself up for missing opportunities to “witness” for Jesus.
I wish everyone would understand that there are good people and bad people who are religious, and good people and bad people who are atheists. I’d like you to realize that your religious faith doesn’t make you good, but has the capacity to prompt you to do some of the very worst things to others when religious conviction is in charge of your decision-making in place of your innate sense of right and your empathy.
I personally have been all-in on both sides. I’ve been fully a Christian: believing, studying, and participating in every aspect of being “born again” and “spirit-filled” in lay ministry. And now I am every bit an atheist — pretty certain that there is no god or gods. Because of my past religious experiences, I will never ridicule someone for their religious beliefs, because I know first-hand how real all of it seems as you’re believing it and seemingly experiencing a relationship with the Divine.
When so much of a person’s past is tied up in memories of emotional and seemingly spiritual encounters, there is very little which can break that spell over people when it is something so personal, and seems so meaningful. But what is perhaps woefully lacking in our understanding is just how vast and far-reaching are the abilities of our own brain to imagine and to create worlds of such intricate detail, that we become certain these feelings are from an external, powerful, and loving source. In reality, it is just us loving ourselves. The early humans with the most advanced thought-processing abilities and imagination, have been able to cope through the greatest variety of adverse experiences and have triumphed and borne the next generation with similar traits, so that our species continued.
The very earliest man began worshiping the most rudimentary idols as we became aware and in awe of the vastness beyond ourselves. The sun seemed divine because it was the giver of life, heat, and light. Now that there are explanations for these many phenomena, it’s time to put to rest our ancient superstitions, and embrace reality as we continue to learn of our origin, and that of all things.
Yet, with this website, I still advocate for individuals the freedom to believe how they want and to find their own path.
When I was a Christian, there was no amount of evidence that anyone could have presented which would have made me consider what they had to say. I would only dig my heels in a little deeper, to show my God that I’m not one of the weak-willed or “Baby” Christians, and to do so, I would have tried to shut down my faculties for recognizing validity in their arguments. I would have been steadfast in my Christian beliefs while ignoring the nagging questions which might upend those beliefs, protecting God as if he were a delicate flower incapable of standing on his own.
As a Christian, I already had to ignore much about “God’s plan” ...the balance of “free will” and Calvinism and a world filled with suffering, and innocent people dying before they have a chance to learn of salvation, yet are still judged; possibly being pre-destined to fail, or having one’s will hardened by God to do the wrong things so that some prophecy can be fulfilled, or ultimately being okay with not being one of the “elect” ...as if there is anything even remotely fair about anything in this divine plan.
It was only through careful introspection over time that I began to consider individual tenuous tendrils which I once thought were unshakable pillars, realizing just how violent and flawed even the most cherished Christian tenets have been through the ages. There didn’t seem to be any divine standard or leading, but only human meddling, passing from one terrible mistake in policy to the next, to the next. Even now, American Evangelical Christianity is on the brink of total self-annihilation because of their insistence of following Donald Trump as if he is some divine fulfillment to prophecy which will usher in the second coming of Jesus. Some Christian leaders are currently saying that Christians who don't support Trump are going to Hell.
No, not all Christians are like that. But each time we’ve had to exclaim “we’re not all like that” through the dark centuries of slavery and the crusades, or the current events of white supremacy, or misogyny, or homophobia, we nearly always have to look to the smallest, most dimly lit corner of Christendom to find anything resembling peace or love or humility. In my experience, people are more apt to be peaceful or loving or exhibit humility who don’t hitch up their wagon to anything in which god-belief is present, because with that belief there are often exclusions or conditions circumventing human kindness and empathy.
I do acknowldedge the good done in the name of God and of a particular faith such as Christianity. I’ve witnessed the seemingly super-human strength to keep going, or the dedication of one’s life in the service of others. I just wish they knew they already have it within themselves, and it is by their connection to what they believe, that they have been able to tap into that truly good part of themselves. Yet they continue to believe that they are nothing without God, and that it is He working through them.
I also acknowledge that I do not believe atheism to be the cure for everything. With a near universal embrace of science and logic, wars and suffering most likely would not end. Dictators and corrupt forms of government could still operate in the world because as humans, we are very tribal and exclusionary. We tend toward familiarity, harkening back to our earliest ‘fight or flight’ reactions to a primeval environment. But without superstition clouding our vision, I do think that change for better could come faster and be longer lasting.
If there is anything I believe, I believe it is time for us as a species to move on in our continued evolution. Realize we’ve outgrown our dependence on gods. Embrace reality, science and reason, and work toward a better life where all can benefit.
Be yourself. Stop looking for permission from an obstinate god who is only stern and strict because that is how corrupt political and religious leaders made him — as a way to keep the people compliant and permissive. ‘Promise them an afterlife of rest which will counter this one. Tell them that the meek among them will inherit the Earth. Tell them not to worry about how poor or hungry they are right now, because they just need to lay up for themselves treasures in Heaven. Remind them of Hell so they don’t become lawless. Instead give them scriptures which suggest that it is God who put all the rulers in charge of the people according to his perfect plan. Above all, don’t waver in your faith, because without faith, it is impossible to please God. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.’ These are the mantras. This is the opiate of the masses.
It is not against any law to question. Begin to question.