Posts tagged ‘beliefs’
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…
“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into” Jonathan Swift (Irish writer and satirist)
“Belief cannot argue with unbelief, it can only preach to it” Karl Barth (influential Christian thinker)
Above are two quotes, both of which I tend to accept as sensible. So I’m trying to work out the implications of it for those who live inside a world of faith and those who live outside.
Following the logic in both these statements, it’s very difficult to ‘reason’ someone out of a faith position – certainly if it’s a faith held as a child.
My first question to Christians now is always ‘what made you first believe?’ – and if the answer involves the phrases ‘well I was brought up in a christian home…’ or ‘at the age of 13 i went to a camp…’ – it doesn’t mean their faith is any less real or valid, but as far as discussion goes, again I must refer to Swift and Barth.
Can the de-converted people on this site maybe take a moment to discuss what they think are the best ways to guide people from their prison of faith?
(excuse the inflammatory last statement :) ) – QuestionMonkey
…what have you got to lose?
Take a walk with me for a moment – I’m not asking you to change your views, just to let your mind wander into hypotheses for a while. The Roman occupation was a difficult time and Jews were very open-minded about messiahs and were actively looking and praying for him. There were a number of messiah claims and rumors of messiahs at that time.
Jesus had, of course, come as a Jewish messiah. He was Jewish, and he was the man prophesied in Isaiah (or so you claim). He was there as the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies – he had come to redeem the children of Israel, god’s chosen people. Yet the overwhelming majority of good, god-fearing, open-minded, ‘messiah wanting’ Jews decided, based on the evidence, that Jesus wasn’t the one. So much so that Paul and the other apostles decided that god was telling them to go preach to the gentiles. A cynical man would say that they came to that conclusion because the Jews were having none of the ‘messiah’ talk – so therefore god was ‘guiding them’ to try somewhere else (in the same way god guided me not to go out with Kate Moss)…
This is part 3 of 3 of my rant against the belief in eternal damnation.
With the implications of eternal damnation on the bulk of humanity, I had no peace in Jesus. I looked at humanity in two camps – the Saint and the Heathen – the Saved and the Damned. I witnessed to my workmates fervently, because they were my friends, and I could not imagine them in eternal torment. I prayed every morning for the Holy Spirit to empower my witness so they too could experience the peace of Jesus.
Several years ago, my mother could tell that I was anguished at her unbelief. She was a strong Christian when I was younger, but had since left the faith after her own period of questioning and doubting. I was constantly witnessing to her and inviting her to church, as if she had never before heard the Gospel. The fate of my mother’s eternal soul weighed heavily on my conscience. One particular day, after praying for the convicting power of the Holy Spirit to fall upon my mother, I tried to show her that she needed to repent and again recognize the One True God through Jesus Christ. My face must have betrayed my true feelings – you can’t fool mom…
It’s been about a week now since Thanksgiving, and hopefully everyone has found creative ways to finish off all their leftover turkey! I love the holiday season, and the time I get to spend with my family, but one thing is always awkward—saying grace before the dinners. I don’t mind bowing my head and listening quietly while others do it, but I’m not too fond of doing it myself.
My family consists mostly of devout Christians—none of whom know that I’m an atheist. That’s right, I’m still in the closet per say. However, my sister somehow has this special ability to know just who to pick on when it comes time to say the prayer. We celebrated Thanksgiving dinner at her home, and as we all gathered around the table and bowed our heads in silence, I knew I was in for it. Before she even asked I could tell just by her look that she was going to pick me.
It was a test of sorts. Everyone in my family was waiting to see if I had lost my “roots” when I went off to college. It was their way of putting me back in my place, or that’s at least how they saw it. When my sister told (not asked) me to say it, there was no backing down. So, I took a deep breath…