Posts tagged ‘beliefs’
Earlier this month, one of the elements of the church service I attended was the confirmation of Chloe, a seven-year-old girl, as a junior member of the congregation. This is the first of two confirmations that my denomination typically holds: the first for youngsters, the second for adolescents no younger than fourteen.
The guest pastor who was conducting the ceremony noted that, prior to the service, the girl’s mother had asked, several times, “Are you sure that you’ve repented of your sins and asked Jesus to forgive you?” The child answered affirmatively, and her mother and the pastor were satisfied that she was indeed ready to be confirmed.
As the pastor recounted that story, I had to suppress a shudder. I could not help thinking, “The child is seven years old! What sins could she possibly have committed that would require repentance and divine forgiveness?” I also realized, to my horror, that in order to have learned something about the doctrines of repentance, forgiveness and salvation, Chloe may also have learned something about the corollary doctrines of human depravity and hell…
Among people who have left any belief system there is very often a tendency to demonize that which they formerly adhered to. We see it all the time.
- Former Catholics seem all too happy to point at the abuse scandals and say that’s what they’d expect from the old “whore of Babylon”.
- Former atheists become Christians and then set about declaiming atheists as the spawn of Satan.
- In the Eastern Orthodox Church (EOC) I often heard former Protestants berating Protestantism as stupid, evil, dead, not even Christian, and so on.
- Former political liberals/conservatives will begin to rant about how dumb/evil/wrong/damaging conservatives/liberals are.
Among former Christians the tendency exists too. Christianity, the Church, Christians, religion in general, all too often come to be viewed as the greatest earthly source of evil. Just look around this, or any other, atheist/agnostic/decon forum and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
I think this tendency may arise from anger at abuses seen or suffered in the Church, or from a bit of a personal backlash for feeling like one was duped, and I’m sure there are other sources for it as well. However, regardless of why it happens, I’d like to go on record as saying, “I’m not buying it.”…
An anonymous poster asked this question on one of my blogs:
What do you think our purpose in life is then?
Many Christians believe there is no purpose without God. Of course, one of the most quoted Old Testament verse is:
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Who would not want to believe that the Creator of the universe cares enough about them to have a great plan for their life? In fact, when witnessing to a non-believer, one of the favorite phrases used is “God has a plan for your life.” Really now?
If you read further in Jeremiah 29, you will discover these verses:
17 yes, this is what the LORD Almighty says: “I will send the sword, famine and plague against them and I will make them like poor figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten. 18 I will pursue them with the sword, famine and plague and will make them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth and an object of cursing and horror, of scorn and reproach, among all the nations where I drive them.
Ok. Does God have a good plan for my life or will he send the sword, famine and plagues against me?…
Myth 1: Without religion we would have no moral values and our society would be worse off.
Surely, the argument goes, the benefit of having a god in your life is that it gives you rules to live by. “If God does not exist then everything is permissible,” said Dostoyevsky, and indeed, without the threat of eternal toasting what’s to stop us? And without a moral backbone based on religion, our society would suffer.
Of course, there are plenty of things to stop us from behaving totally selfishly. With, or without religion, human beings have tremendous capacity for empathy and often modify their behaviour because they know of the pain that they might cause others. And although religion is good at shunning, society is good at disapproving of behaviour in order to protect itself too. We have survived in our present form because we are good at stopping those things which are threatening to our tribe. With, or without a god, we are capable of love and altruism and nobility because of choice, rather than the desire to avoid the ultimate, eternal, divine shunning. I am sure that both theist and atheist would agree that morality based on positive choice is preferable to one based on fear.
There is also growing evidence that religion appears to have little clear positive benefit on society, and there is a case to be made that it is, in fact, very detrimental…
On a previous post, Heard of God (Sam) made the following comment:
Roopster, I have read that you tried to be free from sin once and you said that is one of the one of the reasons that led you away. It took me two years to finally get rid of the last sin. I live to day free from sin because I believed in God and his promise. I couldn’t do it on my own; it was the grace of God that finally did it for me.
It is a typical Christian response to de-conversion to point to “sin” as a catalyst. They simply believe that we’re apostates because we need a license to “sin.” Huh?
First of all, what is sin? Sin, according to Christianity, is disobeying God’s Word (the Bible).
Well, as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, there are numerous commands in the Bible that Christians do not follow. Women speak in church. A man can marry a divorced woman and not be in a perpetual state of adultery. Women can wear jewelry and costly clothing. I could go on for hours on commands from the Bible which are not followed by the majority of Christiandom. In other words, a Christian who subscribes to the above definition of sin is really nothing more than a perpetual sinner. Well, everyone by Sam. :) …
There was a lady in our church who developed a mental illness. She was a terrific gal and, of course, I prayed diligently for her. So did a lot of folks. However, she did not get better. For whatever reason, at the time this struck me hard. As a result, I began to carefully sift through 25 years of praying. Not just my praying, but prayers of others also. And I realized that, as far as I was aware, no prayer had ever been answered in a clear, unmistakable way. No cripple ever walked, no blind person gained sight, no deaf person started hearing, nothing. Oh sure, there were some folks who beat cancer and other things like that but nothing outside the realm of medical probability. There were other coincidences too but nothing one could put a finger on and say, “There! That was outside the realm of the natural or possible.”
It became obvious to me that I was talking to the air- no answers, no response of any kind. Initially I read several books on prayer, on the existence of God, and on struggling with unbelief. None of them dared to go where I was. They all pulled up short and scurried off into comforting, yet unsatisfactory answers.
Being a scientist, I dug into the literature for any studies on the efficacy of prayer. Lo and behold, there were actual, controlled studies that had been done. And the result? Drum roll, please….. nada, nil, zip, zilch, zero… no efficacy at all…