I was recently engaged in a Facebook discussion of my religious beliefs. As that format does not lend itself well to discussions of this sort I decided to write more on the topic here. And so, here goes:
I grew up in church. I spent my whole life believing to one degree or another. There were mountains and valleys. But throughout most of my life I had some degree of faith. And then an unrelated series of events conspired to change that.
First, I met an atheist, molecular biologist, who wanted to debate Creation vs Evolution in a Yahoo chat room. Being to some degree arrogant, I decided I could debate science with a scientist, and so I entered the discussion. We debated this issue for years. I am in fact still in contact with him 15 years later. Today we debate politics, as we no longer have any religious differences worth discussing.
Basically what it boils down to is this. He kept asking me why I believed what I believed, until I could no longer answer the question. I concluded that my belief in God was a result of my parents telling me He existed. I believed the Bible because mom and dad said it was true. When I examined what I had as independent evidence, based on personal experience and observation, as the foundation for a belief system….I found I had none.
This was a life altering, and life shattering revelation. I had to face the reality that prayer does not in fact change things. Horrible situations were not going to be resolved by the invisible hand of some benevolent, all-powerful, being. I could not lean on the Lord. I had one person I could rely on to get me through…me. For about two years this was a horrifying and miserable feeling. My lucky charm wasn’t lucky. Santa wasn’t real. No angels were coming to my rescue. I was doomed!
But eventually I learned that I can stand on my own two feet. I can make informed decisions, and deal with the consequences. When life knocks me down, I can get back up just fine on my own. And I can succeed without help.
One of the other events, prior to meeting this individual was that I had read a short story where a guy from ancient Greece is revived in modern times. He asks to be led to the temple of Zeus so that he can pray. He is informed that those old gods were just stories, myths and fables. There is no temple to Zeus any more.
He is told that in this modern age it is Jesus that we worship (he was brought back to life by a Catholic in the story). So they lead him to some grand cathedral. He walks in to the crowd and begins asking for someone to direct him to Jesus. The people look at him like he is stupid.
“No one here has ever seen him in person”, someone tells him. “So too with Zeus”, he replies. “Yes, but we have a holy book that tells us of him.” “Many tales were written of Zeus and the other gods”. he replies. And so forth and so on… The conclusion being that the exact same reasons no one today worships Zeus, also apply to “God” as defined by Christianity.
So I concluded that to continue to believe this tale told by first century goat herds and fisherman, and to guide my life by the words in a book put together by committee at some council meeting, didn’t make a lot of sense anymore.
Pops became a pastor. He moved away to head up a church. And then, after months of preaching to this congregation he was caught banging the church secretary, in the Sunday School classroom, by my mother. The levels of wrong there are too great to even discuss.
He called me after my parents were split and he was living with the “other” woman (who was also married at the time). He told me that he planned to marry her as soon as his divorce was final, as they “don’t want to live in sin any longer than they absolutely have to”. I told him, “Dad…no one wants to live in sin any longer than they ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO”. And I have effectively never spoken to him again (about 11 years now).
SO…to recap. The belief started not to make sense to me. I couldn’t justify in my own mind why I subscribed to ancient tales of dieties and devils told by ONE group, and dismissed the tales told by another group as myths and fables. And I witnessed first-hand the fact that Jesus was not in fact changing lives. My father, and many others, were the same scumbags they had always been. They just changed their clothes.
So I walked away.
I am open minded. If God wants to speak to me, I am all ears. I am simply not wasting my time and money anymore. I am not attending a church service so I can sit amongst the scribes and Pharisees, give my money to con-men, and surround myself with self-righteous people who are no better than those they condemn.
I am not convinced the Bible is true, though I am open to the possibility. If I see prophecy fulfilled in front of my face, or a miracle occurs, or something of that sort happens, then I will know what I am witnessing. I have not shut away all the good and valuable lessons I learned over the years. I am simply not going to be led around by the nose by some guy who feels that he read the same book I did and came away with such a profound and deep understanding that I should attend his service every week to allow him to explain it to me.
Outside of that, the rest of it is all emotion. All the fainting, dancing, shouting and singing….happens at an AC/DC concert. I don’t need to go to church for that.
And here I am simply talking about the Protestant denominations. Don’t even get me started on the Catholics…whom I regard as the largest cult in the world.
Anyway… if someone has something convincing, demonstrable, verifiable and real to relate that might change my mind…fire away. I am not closed-minded.
But I do not want to hear about your cousin’s, brother-in-law’s, stepson who was miraculously cured of some vague, undocumented condition. Or anything else…unless you can prove it.