Posts tagged ‘religion’
For several of the many possible reasons, I realized that I could no longer hold fast to the faith that I once built my life around. When this realization struck me, it was emotionally painful. Worse, most of the ways I had coped with pain and grief before were no longer open to me, as they were all forms of prayer- alone, in a group, or with a Bible. I could not really turn to my Christian friends or my Christian family for support, as they saw my doubts and concerns as an attack against them and all that they valued. I could not go to my pastor- I was the pastor!
Things I did that helped me get through this time of grief and pain:
- Go for a walk outside/get some healthy exercise.
- Fill a playlist with upbeat MP3s (Jonathan Coulton, Weird Al, Tom Smith, ABBA, etc), and listen to them whenever possible.
- Pick up an old, creative hobby I hadn’t engaged in for a while (roleplaying, in my case. Yes, I am a geek.)
- Spend time in a social activity with friends (without discussing religion).
- Find ways to help people as I had when a Christian, without the Christian trappings (and realize that I am still the same person I always was).
- Find a support group of people who have gone through similar struggles (this site was a huge help for me!).
- Find people I could talk honestly to (see previous parenthetical).
- Journal (blog) the experience, and/or what led up to it.
- Remember to breathe!
- Explore different faiths, different fellowships, different philosophies, and find out what I wanted from them, what I could offer to them, and (most importantly to me) what I could put my faith in.
How about you? What helped you through your de-conversion, if it was painful, or helps you through other times of trial now that prayer is no longer an option?
I finally read Richard Dawkins’The Greatest Show on Earth last week. As I read the chapter on embryology a couple of nights ago, I couldn’t help marveling at how amazing life is in all its forms. Religionists often claim that their views enhance the value of life, particularly human life, because all of it has been ordained and designed by the hand(s) of god(s). It seems to me, however, that religious views actually cheapen the value of life. I want to point out three ways in which this occurs.
First, the creation of life forms is not a particularly significant accomplishment for a deity or deities that are capable of doing all sorts of spectacular things. A galaxy here and a supernova there, a parasite here and a mammal there – just another mundane day in the deity office. Ho hum; now it’s time to rest. Big deal.
Second, religious believers frequently assert that earthly life is second-rate compared to what’s ahead in the next life (or lives). Life on earth in the here and now is a trial run, a testing ground, the primary significance of which is to prepare people (or allow people to prepare themselves, or for people to allow god(s) to prepare them – there are many variations on this theme) for the hereafter. If you think this life is great, just wait till you get to heaven; you haven’t seen anything yet. Or, if you think this life sucks, just wait till you get to heaven; god(s) will reward your patience and faithfulness with something much better.
Third, there are religious believers who teach that humankind is the pinnacle of creation. Think about this a moment. As marvelous as human life is, it takes real hubris to believe that humanity is the apex of creation. Bertrand Russell put this idea well when he said, “If I were granted omnipotence, and millions of years to experiment in, I should not think Man much to boast of as my final accomplishment.” Human life is remarkable, but to consider it the best thing going (outside of heaven) is tragically impoverished…
So here’s ole YHWH, the Alzheimer god, forgetting what he said from one book to another.
The earth lasts forever:
-Psalm 78:69, “He built his sanctuary like the heights, like the earth that he established forever.”
-Ecclesiastes 1:4, “One generation passes away, and another generation comes: but the earth abides forever.”
The earth lasts forever, not:
-II Peter 3:10, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”
-Revelation 21:1, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.”
And here he is forgetting what he said from one chapter to another.
Jeremiah 3:12, “For I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger forever.”
Jeremiah 17:4, “Ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn forever.” How can his anger be forever if his anger isn’t forever?
And showing that the apple does not fall far from the tree, YHWH’s boy, JC, seems to be similarly absent-minded.
Hide it under a bushel? No!
Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Hide it under a bushel? Yes!
Matthew 6:1, “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven…”
“If there be any mistake in the Bible, there may well be a thousand. If there be one falsehood in that book, it did not come from the God of truth.” — John Wesley (July 24, 1776)
Just one John? I think I found a few… hundred.
Now do y’all remember from Sunday school what Judas did with his thirty pieces of silver? If you’re not sure, that’s OK, ’cause neither is the Holy Spirit who inspired the authors of Holy Writ. Judas may have
Thrown the reward money into the temple.
Matthew 27:5 — “After he threw the money into the temple he went away and hanged himself.”
Bought a field with the money.
Acts 1:18 — “With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong.”
Oh. That’s a contradiction, not a falsehood? Ah. Well then how about this.
Do badgers chew cud? The Bible says, “Yeah.” … twice
Leviticus 11:6 — “The coney [hyrax or rock badger], though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is unclean for you. The rabbit, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is unclean for you.”
Deuteronomy 14:6-7 – “You may eat any animal that has a split hoof divided in two and that chews the cud. However, of those that chew the cud or that have a split hoof completely divided you may not eat the camel, the rabbit or the coney [hyrax or rock badger]. Although they chew the cud, they do not have a split hoof; they are ceremonially unclean for you…”)
Folks tend to think of the Bible as the go-to source for family values. Seems the Bible is a bit confounding on this topic though.
The Bible says Lot was a righteous man.
II Peter 2:7, “he [God] rescued Lot, a righteous man,”
The Bible also says that Lot got drunk, had sex with his own daughters, and got them both pregnant.
Genesis 19:33-36, “That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and lay with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up. The next day the older daughter said to the younger, “Last night I lay with my father. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and lie with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.” So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went and lay with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up. So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father.”
Now some friends of mine from the South of the U.S. like to make jokes along these lines, but honestly, if any man did this with his daughters, would anyone call him a righteous man?
Enough incest. How about looking instead at attainder?
Exodus 20:5 says that God will punish a child for his father’s sin, “for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,”.
Ezekiel 18:20 says he won’t, “The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son…”
There seems to be some confusion among the divinely inspired authors of the Bible. Maybe God can’t remember exactly who he met face to face, and who he didn’t, and who he killed. I know I have trouble keeping those things sorted out sometimes.
Has anyone seen God face to face?
Genesis 32:30 — “Jacob said, ‘I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.’”
Exodus 33:11 –”The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.”
Exodus 33:20 — “You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
John 1:18 — “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.”
I John 4:12 — “No man hath seen God at any time.”
Another element of divine confusion seems to be the classic “I love them all”, “I love them all not” dilemma. Perhaps one can imagine the deity plucking petals off one of heaven’s daisies.
I want them all saved
1 Timothy 2:3-4 — “God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved.”
2 Peter 3:9 — “The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
I want them damned
2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 — “God shall send them a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned…
We have spent a considerable time on this blog, addressing Biblical myths. HeIsSailing wrote on several myths of the Bible including the Leviathan, the creation story, the tower of Babel, the origins of languages, and the Crucifixion story. I compiled an entry on the Exodus and wrote a short blog on the myth of the devil. Richard most recently wrote on the Apocalypse.
An interesting myth that is widely embraced by the Christian church today is the story of the impregnation of a young Jewish woman by YHWH 2000 years ago. The Apostles Creed includes the lines:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the virgin Mary
There are several issues with the story of the virgin birth. The first, of course, is the parallel of this story with many other such conceptions of “gods” over the course of history. I read one Christian’s rebuttal this argument which stated that this is in fact more of a declaration of its truth since the devil always tries to counterfeit truth. Well, he had quite a head start on this one.
The second is the genesis of the virgin birth story itself. The first person to write about an individual named Jesus was Paul, the Apostle. In his letters, there is no mention of the virgin birth of Jesus. One would think if this was such an important doctrine to be embraced as a core belief of Christianity, it would be trumpeted by Christianity’s greatest evangelist…