Suppose God does exist. I don’t need god. God doesn’t need me. I’m okay with this.

March 20, 2009 at 12:23 am 40 comments

Leaving “the faith” was a long process for me, around seven years to be exact (the universe has a funny sense of humor). It started with my questioning the concept of sin. At many times during my Christendom, I wondered why something I did was wrong. I could not reconcile how something that I enjoyed, something seemingly harmless, could be grounds for damnation. Furthermore, I could not reconcile how honest mistakes, such as letting the word “god” or “Jesus Christ!” slip, could be grounds for an eternity of torture and punishment. I also didn’t understand how simply believing something could change the rules.

For a long time, I simply just ignored those raging questions or accepted the Sunday School answer that god didn’t like it anymore than us, but that was just the way it had to be. As time went on it became more difficult to ignore. With each Sunday the questions screamed at me louder until I could not longer ignore or accept the answers given to me. Being born into “the faith,” I was attached to all the notions that Christianity (more so fundamentalist Christianity) had given me. Because of this I blamed the church first. I thought that the nature of sin had been distorted.

I rationalized that a sin is not so much an action that is inherently bad but rather it was the result of that action that granted it the classification of sin. I thought that a sin was something that brought us away from god. It made sense and was compatible with the life I wanted to live at that time. I clung to that notion for as long as I could. Slowly but surely my idea about what is good and what is bad slowly eroded. Well not exactly. They were never really my ideas. I always had my own feelings about right and wrong. Really those ideas of right and wrong I had adopted had been replacements for my true feelings on the subject.

One example was my thoughts on dinosaurs. I remember a Discovery Channel program which stated that dinosaurs existed millions of years ago. I remember saying this to my mother with excitement, only to have her dismiss this by saying “no they’re wrong. The earth isn’t even millions of years old…” blah blah etc… I can’t remember if I felt any disappointment. What I do remember is wondering how all the scientists were wrong about that and right about everything else. But mom is always right, so they must be wrong. You can redo this scenario with a multitude of things and the result would still be the same: I would make an assertion that seemed pretty reasonable, it would be rejected because it doesn’t fit the Bible, and I would half-heartedly accept the “Biblical” interpretation instead what I considered to be my true feelings on the subject.

Truth is a sticky thing, especially when it doesn’t fit in with the facts. This realization made it seem as if my sense of morality was eroding so I began to turn on the religion as a whole. Specifically I began to wonder the necessity of Christ. If right and wrong are subjective then how can I truly know what god wants? I realized even the New Testament was not really specific on a code of conduct. If there is no real code of conduct (or at least an explicit one), how can anyone know if they’re sinning? If they don’t know they’re sinning how can they be sinning? It would be as if you lived in a country with millions of laws and none of them written down or talked about. You just have to guess. What kind of law is that? I came to the conclusion that there must be no real sin then. Then all one must do to get to heaven is seek a relationship with god.

Finally I came to the question that led to my de-conversion. If all one must do is seek relationship with god, then who needs Jesus? If seeking god was the chief end of man, why did Christ have to come to “free” us from sin? Sin seems to be a pretty irrelevant notion then. Even accepting the Bible’s notion of sin, there is still this question: Why would god sacrifice itself to itself to change a rule that it made up?

These were some of the questions I wondered to which I found no sufficient answer. Nothing made sense to me anymore. A good friend once told me “if it doesn’t make sense, it’s probably not true.” That’s the conclusion I made. If the Bible was 100% true and infallible, then I wouldn’t have to bend over backward to justify and rectify the inconsistencies with what I knew was true. If god sent man a message, it wouldn’t be confusing. Satan is supposed to be the great confuser, not god. His message should be clear, but it wasn’t.

Finally I came to the question I now dwell on: Suppose god does exist. Why do I have any responsibility to god? I didn’t ask for existence. I wasn’t consulted. Why should I abide by rules I have no hope in changing? This is all I know. If there is a god, I have no responsibility to it. Conversely, I feel god has no responsibility to me in the same way I have no responsibility for an ant colony. I don’t need the ant colony. They don’t need me. I don’t need god. God doesn’t need me. I’m okay with this. I just wish everyone else was too.

- Thomas (guest contributor)

Entry filed under: ~Guest. Tags: , , , .

The Atheist’s Way: Living Well Without Gods Reconciling the reality of my experiences with church teachings on life

40 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Christopher  |  March 20, 2009 at 9:24 am

    My main problem with sin is how it can change over time. How can wearing a cotton-polyester blend be wrong for centuries, and then be ok?

    Why would god sacrifice itself to itself to change a rule that it made up?

    I don’t have a problem rationalizing this statement, in fact it makes perfect sense to me, if only the sin concept made sense.

  • 2. Joshua  |  March 20, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    “Suppose God does exist. I don’t need god. God doesn’t need me. I’m okay with this.”

    Bingo!

  • 3. orDover  |  March 20, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    I don’t have a problem rationalizing this statement

    How do you do it?

  • 4. Christopher  |  March 20, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    IOrDover, if you consider part of God is a force or nature of things, such as the laws of nature, then violating those laws has a negative affect. If you view sin as a violation of God’s nature, and not simply violation of an arbitrary rule, then it stands to reason that for every action there is reaction.

    You know the drill, orDover. The wages of sin is death.

    God, in His perfect nature, can’t violate His own nature, only work within it. (For those who say, “I thought God can do anything?”, the answer, of course, is that is illogical. Like God making something so big He couldn’t lift it.) So He, still working within his nature, absorbs the reaction of our action.

    That’s the logic anyway. And it works for me.

    Until that is, you begin to analyze sin, like Thomas has done. And you realize that aside from a few drilled-into-our-head concepts (homosexuality, adultery), sin is a pretty fuzzy gray line. And then as I mentioned, you have the Old Testament sins, like not wearing two different types of cloths, or not having sex with a woman on her period, or not eating a BLT, and first, they don’t on the surface seem to violate any nature of God, and secondly, they changed over time. Can sin really change? Because the Bible says God doesn’t.

    Or even New Testament orders like women have to have their heads covered in church (does a Cubs hat count?) which, if you are a literalist, is God’s command through Paul, and yet I don’t know too many churches that have women-head-checkers standing at the door.

    So yeah, I’m getting what Thomas is saying.

  • 5. Christopher  |  March 20, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    I need an edit-comment button too. Jeeeesh.

  • 6. SnugglyBuffalo  |  March 21, 2009 at 2:27 am

    Except God is depicted as very frequently ignoring or violating his own laws. Just creating everything is a violation of the laws of nature. Even if you argue that God can’t do the logically impossible, it is not logically impossible to ignore or violate his rules regarding sin.

  • 7. Luke  |  March 21, 2009 at 11:57 am

    given your history and experience, i would have to say that i would come to the same conclusion. i don’t have that history nor that view of God.

  • 8. Christopher  |  March 21, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Snuggly Buffalo- I don’t think creating everything is a violation of the laws of nature, for the simple fact that if God doesn’t exist, everything was created by the laws of nature.

    You could argue that miracles or violating his rules, but someone else would argue that miracles are just God working within his nature but outside of what is currently known by science.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “violate his rules regarding sin”. You’d have to cite an example, unless you mean the apparent arbitrariness of sin, or undefinedness of sin. or how sin changes, in which case, yeah, I get that.

    Which is why I come to the same conclusion as the author without necesarrily agreeing with the god scacrificing himself to change his own rule dillema.

  • 9. Anna  |  March 21, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    “I don’t need god. God doesn’t need me. I’m okay with this.”

    To be fair, I think we have to admit that if god exists, we ARE dependent on him for our existence, which means that we do, in fact, need him in some sense. I don’t just mean the fact that we came to be, but the fact that we continue to live. Doesn’t mean we need him for a heavenly snuggly blanket, but I’m not comfortable being so flippant about the question as to suggest that it honestly does not matter either way. Seems to me it makes a heck of a difference whether or not he exists, in the pursuit of truth. I like existing.

    “Why should I abide by rules I have no hope in changing?”

    Well, the Christian answer is. “because you’ll pay for it.” Of course, we all know this, but I think it’s worth keeping in mind because, well, it’s a pretty good motivator if you’re convinced that it’s true. At least it’s coherent.

    I guess as long as we’re willing to accept that god could stomp on us like we could stomp on that ant hill, it’s all good.

  • 10. SnugglyBuffalo  |  March 22, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    If God exists, why do we need him to be able to continue our own existence? Isn’t one possibility a universe that God created and then he ceased to exist after that?

    There are some mediocre arguments out there for why a creator is necessary to get things started; there’s not even a bad argument for why a creator is necessary to keep things going.

  • 11. SnugglyBuffalo  |  March 22, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    And to Christopher, the laws of nature are such that matter cannot be created nor destroyed, so creating the universe is a violation of the laws of nature.

    My understanding is that most godless hypotheses for the beginning of the universe don’t violate that law; matter an energy never simply come into being from nothing. Correct me if I’m wrong here.

  • 12. LeoPardus  |  March 22, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    I think we have to admit that if god exists, we ARE dependent on him for our existence,

    That logic needs a little help; a qualifier to make it accurate. Let’s say that right after “god” we insert the parenthetical statement “(as I conceive him to be)”. There. Now it works.

    Of course any number of other gods (as any number of others conceive him/her/it to be) could render your statement meaningless.

  • 13. Christopher  |  March 22, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Ah, Snuggly Buffalo, I get what you’re saying.

    I guess you’d have to assume God created something out of nothing. Which always seemed odd to me, because if God is something, then there wasn’t nothing. Anyway.

    My personal belief is our quest into understanding the beginning of this universe is so in the infant stages at this point in history, talking about it is little more than conjecture.

    But yeah, if we stipulate to the idea that God created something out of nothing, it blows my little theory out of the water as we understand matter and energy at the moment.

  • 14. Anna  |  March 22, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    Ok, fair enough. I see that I was assuming a certain kind of God, and it’s certainly possible that God is not involved at all (if he exists) and that we have no responsibility to him. But isn’t it a possibility that if he does exist, we DO have a responsibility to him?

    The ant colony analogy doesn’t work because I didn’t create an ant colony. Of course they don’t need me, or care that I exist. I have no relationship with them whatsoever, besides maybe coexisting (though it’s not like a person would make a point to hang around ant hills). But if I had the power to make ant colonies appear out of thin air, then maybe the ant colony would have some responsibility to me. Or maybe not. I guess I would make the rules in that case. Which is precisely my point- if God exists, HE’S making the rules. So while I completely relate to feeling frustrated with God’s non-involvement and the fuzziness of the sin issue, in the end, we’re either playing by ourselves or in God’s game where he makes the rules.

    So I do think it matters if God exists.

  • 15. Joshua  |  March 23, 2009 at 8:16 am

    Why would we have more of a responsibility to him than any other animal?

  • 16. Christopher  |  March 23, 2009 at 9:41 am

    Anna, I’m fine with the concept that God-Creator gets to make the rules, being the creator. I get the whole “the clay can’t argue with the potter” analogy.

    My problem is, what are the rules? We are going by the Bible, I assume?

    So then, are we going by Old Testament rules? Did Christ come to abolish the law, or fufill it? Well, he said he came to fufill it. So the law still stands. Oh, but it doesn’t, because Christians don’t follow Old Testament law. Except the Ten Commandments (except the whole Sabbath thing). Oh, and sometimes tithing. And some Christians pick and choose Old Testament laws, like they think tattoos are wrong, but they still don’t have a problem wearing the cotton-polyester blend or eating a nice pork chop sandwich.

    So then, are the rules New Testament rules? Well, Paul said women should have their heads covered in church. I grew up in a pretty conservative church, and even they didn’t have women covering their heads. So now it’s just some New Testament rules we follow?

    So see? Sure. God is God, so he makes the rules. Except, where are the rules?

  • 17. Anna  |  March 23, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Joshua-
    I don’t know. Maybe we don’t. Maybe free will and all that. It doesn’t seem to really matter, because, again, if God exists, he makes the rules.

    Christopher-
    I totally hear you. I agree- the sin issue has been a big source of frustration for me, too. Mostly the unactionable Sermon on the Mount and realizing that most Christians (myself included at the time) didn’t actually take sin very seriously. If they did, they went crazy. Or they left the Church.

    So what I hear you saying is that God may or may not exist, but if he does, he’s done a bad job communicating what he wants, so in frustration you throw your hands up and deny that it’s your responsibility to do what God wants since he’s failed on his responsibility to communicate to you.

    I get that. I feel like that too. I am angry at God for not existing, or if he does, for being so damn hard to find. It’s funny, cause I used to hear Christians talk about atheists and describe in a patronizing tone, “Silly atheists. How can you be mad at someone you deny exists? We all know you believe deep down, so just let go of your anger and come back to church.” It seemed so dumb to have that kind of emotion towards something you don’t think exists. Now I understand- it’s disappointment.

    So now I’m the cliche. Oh well.

  • 18. Joshua  |  March 23, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    “if God exists, he makes the rules.”

    What rules?

  • 19. Joshua  |  March 23, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    “Now I understand- it’s disappointment.”

    Yeah, that was really hard for me to wrestle with and grasp. I understand VERY well.

  • 20. Anna  |  March 23, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Joshua-
    You asked (in 15) why humans should have any greater responsibility to God than the other animals. The Christian response that I’ve heard (and I’m sure you have, too) is that humans are made in God’s image, are endowed with free will, and thus a have a moral culpability which makes the sin issue an issue. Animals don’t. My point was simply that if God is the creator, he gets to decide how and why his creatures relate to him. He can do it for a reason that makes sense to us, or he can do it completely arbitrarily. So it doesn’t really matter whether the claim that humans have a unique responsibility makes sense to me. The point is, if he’s the creator, he’s deciding what flies.

  • 21. GaryC  |  March 23, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    The point is, if he’s the creator, he’s deciding what flies.

    Not because he is the creator, but because he is supposed to be very powerful and thus can inflict grievous harm on you if you don’t obey his rules. However, his position as creator would not morally entitle him to make the rules, not would it exempt him from the rules or entitle him to violate the rules himself.

  • 22. Anna  |  March 23, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    “However, his position as creator would not morally entitle him to make the rules…”

    Why not? If I decide to make a board game, I get to set the rules, and no one can tell me it’s immoral to decide (and insist) that you draw three cards per turn instead of four.

  • 23. The de-Convert  |  March 23, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    “if God exists, he makes the rules.”

    What rules?

    Joshua,

    The bigger question is even if God does exist and there are rules, how would we know those rules? Who should we trust as having really been the recipient of those rules? Should we trust the Hindu scriptures? Should we trust a tribe of desert nomads from a little over 3,000 years ago? Should we trust some radicals from 2,000 years ago? How about Mohamed? Joseph Smith? Me? You?

    If God exists and wants me to follow rules, I say he show up in my living room and share those with me. I’d gladly follow them then.

    Paul

  • 24. GaryC  |  March 23, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    “However, his position as creator would not morally entitle him to make the rules…”

    Why not? If I decide to make a board game, I get to set the rules, and no one can tell me it’s immoral to decide (and insist) that you draw three cards per turn instead of four.

    There are certain obvious weaknesses with that analogy. One can question whether “creating a universe” can remotely be likened to “making a board game.” Setting that aside, consider that if you make a board game, you can indeed make the rules, but once you’ve sold me a copy of the game, you’ve lost all control over what I can do with it (copyright law excepted, of course). At that point you have no right to force me, or anyone else to follow the rules as you had written them. Nor do you have any right to prevent me and my opponents from changing your rules to suit ourselves.

    When I was a kid, we used to play Stratego a lot. In that game, according to the official rules, your pieces face you, and your opponent’s pieces face him. Consequently, you know what your pieces represent but not what your opponent’s pieces represent. We found the game to be a lot more entertaining when we changed the rules so that our own pieces faced away from us, and we knew what our opponent’s pieces were but not what our pieces were.

    And lo, the Milton Bradley company smote us not for so doing..

  • 25. Anna  |  March 24, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    Gary-

    Ha, you’re right that the analogy is a stretch. But I think it’s a stretch in my favor- if we have copyright laws protecting something as trivial as a board game, it seems to me that we do recognize the authority of the creator over their creation.

    I guess where the analogy breaks down is the inanimate nature of the board game. You’re right, of course, that anyone can play Stratego however they find most entertaining, and since you’re still buying the game, Milton Bradley isn’t going to complain. But with the universe, the game pieces (to use a disturbing metaphor) are humans: sentient creatures with the ability to make decisions and act. If we were really like the board game, there would be other gods playing with us however they want.

    So the Christian idea of rebellion makes sense to me. I don’t buy it, but I think to be fair we should admit that IF God made us, he has the right to tell us what to do.

  • 26. Quester  |  March 24, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Anna,

    Your parents had a very direct role in ‘making’ you. Do they have the right to tell you what to do?

  • 27. Anna  |  March 24, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Ooh, that’s a good question…

    Well, they do until you’re 18, right? Ha.

    I mean, reproduction isn’t the same as creation ex nihilo… so I think I still stand by my earlier comments.

  • 28. Quester  |  March 24, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    Ah, so if God had only formed Adam from clay, but the clay appeared through natural means independent of God, Adam would not be obliged to obey God?

  • 29. Aussie Ali  |  March 24, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    I haven’t been able to log in to the forum for the last 2 weeks.

    It shows this error

    Parse error: syntax error, unexpected T_STRING, expecting ‘,’ or ‘;’ in /home/bradric7/public_html/de-conversion/setuser.php on line 74

    Is it me or the site?

  • 30. GaryC  |  March 24, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    I mean, reproduction isn’t the same as creation ex nihilo… so I think I still stand by my earlier comments

    Were you created by your parents, through an act of reproduction, or by God, through an act of creation ex nihilo? And why would the distinction even be relevant to the point at issue?

  • 31. Quester  |  March 24, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    Which point would that be, Gary?

  • 32. Quester  |  March 24, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Ali, I just got the same error.

  • 33. Anna  |  March 24, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    My original point was just that if God exists, we can think whatever we want, but when the shit comes down, we’ll have to deal with the consequences if we’re wrong. This makes me hesitant to make statements like, “If there is a god, I have no responsibility to it… I don’t need god. God doesn’t need me. I’m okay with this.”

    The debate over whether or not God is morally justified in holding us responsible to his rules is somewhat a periphery issue to me.

    And just to clarify, I’m not trying to argue for God’s existence. That would be stupid on this site, and it’s not something I’m interested in anyway. I don’t know if he exists, but I’m pretty sure there would be no way of proving it if he did.

  • 34. Joshua  |  March 24, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    “The point is, if he’s the creator, he’s deciding what flies.”

    My point was not that the concept was wrong, just that if it were true, there would be a clear set of rules we are supposed to follow. Look around. Is there?

    The Bible isn’t clear to me. It looks exactly like humans making rules and saying God gave them.

    So if the theory is correct, then I would expect these rules would be out there somewhere for all to have access. But they aren’t, so the theory must not be correct.

  • 35. Joshua  |  March 24, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    I mean, just consider this.

    More people die every day without ever having any access to God’s Word than are ever saved to a particular sect in the same time. How can anyone say God has a message to give if the message always depends on human transmitters who cannot possibly transmit this message to people at a rate anywhere near the rate at which people die?

    One would hope God’s communication of His message would be better than mere human invention (printing press, internet, radio, tv, etc…. all invented over a thousand years after the message was supposedly first handed to the saints). What a horrible message.

    Then you have to consider the secularization of nations and the constant generational shifts. If God has a message and must fairly communicate it… then we’d better start over in Europe again… blast. By then America will be secularized and we’ll have to come back over here.

    [Boy, Jesus will never come back because so many tribes and nations are being created every generation that saving people from them is just going to get impossible!]

    Why not just say that all divine messages are human inventions transmitted by human messengers with human motives and human limitations and human error?

    Looks exactly like Christianity to me!

  • 36. Anna  |  March 24, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    Yeah yeah, I hear you.

    I don’t think conservative Christianity can answer those objections. That’s why so many of us drift liberal… and on and out…

    2 Peter 3:9 bothers me for the same reason:
    “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.’

    Really? Cause I’m pretty sure we’ve had a population explosion these last 100 years or so…

  • 37. Joshua  |  March 25, 2009 at 12:00 am

    “Really? Cause I’m pretty sure we’ve had a population explosion these last 100 years or so…”

    Damn straight. Exactly.

    I think a genuine knowledge about the world – and the information explosion – will cause more people to drift from their faiths than anything else. Faith in something not seen doesn’t work when what you can see contradicts that faith.

    Anyway. 2 Peter always bothered me to. It was always ironic that Peter says we have everything we need for life and godliness.

    Before the New Testament was complete.

    Before the canon was nailed down.

    Then believers today say we need the whole New Testament. And the canon is locked down.

    Odd.

    Doesn’t that contradict what Peter says?

  • 38. BigHouse  |  March 25, 2009 at 8:39 am

    I don’t know if he exists, but I’m pretty sure there would be no way of proving it if he did.

    And this is a major point for me. If it is so critical and paramount that we have a relationship with and believe in a God, why has he made himself so absent and unprovable? It doesn’t make any sense…unless he doesn’t exist.

  • 39. Yurka  |  March 27, 2009 at 9:07 am

    “if it doesn’t make sense, it’s probably not true.”

    That’s brilliant. Too bad you weren’t around to correct Einstein and Bohr from coming to their erroneous conclusions.

  • 40. Susan  |  January 29, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    You are not being very rational in your reflections and I don’t think you have asked yourself the right questions or truly sought the right answers. Dig a little deeper and you might be able to live your life with a bit more peace. God is there. He does love you. He wants you to be happy!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

Twitter

Archives

Blog Stats

  • 2,011,431 hits since March 2007

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 201 other followers