sent in by Philip Agora
I became a born-again Christian in a Fundamentalist Church when I was 14-year-old boy, wrestled with various issues from the start, found myself dissenting on numerous matters, social liberalism for one, difficulty with idea of hell for another (an idea dealt with succinctly by Bertrand Russell, one of my good guys even when I was a Christian).
I have been a university gospel team preacher and developed an idea of Christian epistemology based on the experience of the so-called Holy Spirit. I found my Christianity more tolerable as a Quaker worshiping in a silent meeting that included a pagan and a jew in our midst. In a word we were a very accepting group of Friends.
However a few years ago I found myself analyzing Christian doctrine more critically than I had ever before, and particularly the concept of "spiritual." What does one mean when one speaks of "spiritual values"? What are "miracles," a "phenomenon" about which Teillhard had serious difficulty? What are the criteria "God" uses to intervene in this world? Why did Pat Robertson's prayers, and those of all his prayer partners, fail to turn the hurricane away from the land in 2003?
I came to realize that much of these "beliefs" of Christians are silly, nonsensical, absurd.
Many Christians make a big deal of "absolute" values, those that come from God by revelation. Leaving apart for a moment the fallacy of revelation not being a human invention, which of these two values is absolute in the Christian scheme: love or torture? Christians argue for both, "God loves his world" and "God will torture forever people who are not born-again Christians." How more primitively, ignorantly tribal could a religion be?
Consider the nature of the universe. I do not have any particular difficulty in believing that it may have a creator, having no good information or understanding of the matter. However, if there is a creator, this creator has some interesting qualities, likely. It is very powerful, likely very big, not especially needy, perhaps intelligent, not necessarily good engineer or designer regarding some aspects. From the way most Christians characterize "God," "God" is substantially complete, perfect; if so, "God" has no use for Christians to praise or worship it.
Okay, let's say a god created the universe. He or she or it made it very big. But it selected a small piece of earth on which to make a special creation, that of man. Then told this creature it could eat this but not that, and if it ate that, then it would die and worse know about good and evil. God didn't want this creature to know about good and evil because? Then the creature screws up, sins, so god has to design a way to bring the creature back to himself, herself, or itself. Their design is that they will send their son who will die for the world and arise from the dead and ascend into heaven. But not for a couple thousand years.
Look, obviously the story is credible. Millions of people believe it, in it, and about it.
But I have decided that if there is a god, he, she, or it is not small minded, not petty, not vengeful for sure, and is infinitely mysterious, mostly because he, she, or it wills it that way--leaving humans and the rest of nature to develop and evolve and progress or not progress according to whatever principles we have to discover.
Christianity has been a brutal, bestial religion, anti-woman, pro-slavery, anti-scientific, murderous. George W. Bush, currently pre-eminent Christian theologian, advocates torture, imprisonment with denial of access to basic rights, suppression of free speech, and the killing of innocent people in the name of freedom, and he lies about these matters.
He also breaks the Ten Commandments while pretending to advocate them, and he pretends not to interfere with one's rights on a religious basis, yet opposes gay marriage and stem research.
Christianity is silly, but more significant it is a powerfully destructive, hurtful religion.
Was: Baptist, Presbyterian, Quaker, Fundamentalist, Evangelical
Now: existentialist, positivist, humanist, non-theist
Converted because: Psychological manipulation of Christian environment
De-converted because: Multitude of influences through my life, culminated by quantum mechanics and astro-physics
email: philipagora at yahoo dot com
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)