You might say that I am a slow learner. It’s taken me 72 years to finally conquer my fears about going to Hell for being a constant sinner.
I started out going to a Baptist Church when I was 5 years old. I lived in Houston and rode a bus every Sunday to the Baptist church off of South Main St. I learned about all of the old Bible stories that are taught to most children, and I believed them all. Why shouldn’t I, the adults told me they were true, so they must have been true.
When I reached the 5th grade I was sent to a Baptist military school and every day, Monday through Friday we would go to chapel and hear more stories about the Bible and Christianity from a Baptist point of view. I went to church on Wednesday evenings and went on Sunday in the morning and in the evening. After 8 years of this kind of indoctrination I knew all about the superficialities and stories about Christianity. No one ever told me about the bad parts of the Bible and all of the atrocities that God commanded the Israelites to do to its enemies. I guess it was too embarrassing to let us children hear that sort of stuff.
When I graduated from high school, I went straight to college, and I didn’t spend any more time going to church because I was tired of it after 8 continuous years of the most concentrated indoctrination one could imagine.
I went through college and got married after about 3 years to, of all things, a Catholic woman. I figured we could work out any differences we had through a rational discussion between the two of us. Wrong. This woman was a religious fanatic, and I never knew that while we were dating. Back in those days, if you married a Catholic you were supposed to raise your children as Catholic, no discussion allowed.
Well after 8 years of going to college, I received a BS, MS, and PhD. During this time I converted to Catholicism because I knew if I didn’t, there would be no peace in the family because of my fanatical wife.
So after 23 years of marriage and seven children, you know Catholics were not supposed to use birth control, things had just about gotten out of control with my wife. She had become more irrational over the years. First it was her fear about the communists taking over the world. She constantly made predictions about when this was going to happen. I got so tired of hearing this I finally began to write down her predictions and would show them to her when they didn’t come true. Of course that didn’t make any difference because there was always a good reason why they didn’t come true. She then wanted to get out of the US and wanted me to take the whole family to Australia, where the communists couldn’t get to us. I wouldn’t do this, because there was really no good reason for doing it.
Then she became obsessed about the stock marked. She believed it was going to crash and the whole economy would crater. Of course this didn’t happen, but every time there was a wobble in the market downwards she was encouraged even further in her belief. If she could have held out for about 25 years, she would have finally been right.
Next she became obsessed with a group in New York State who claimed they had seen a vision of the Virgin Mary and this was happening on a continuing basis. Of course the Virgin was predicting the end of the world if the US didn’t stop sinning and she didn’t see any sign that we were stopping sinning. My wife then began to collecting humongous Mason jars and filled them with wine and grapes. She did this so that when the end came near and all the grocery stores were destroyed we would have something to live on. The grapes wouldn’t do much for us, but after drinking all the wine, we wouldn’t care anyway.
She had to make a trip to New York to see the Virgin Mary and she had to take several of our children with her. This incensed me that all of this craziness was continuing to go on, and now she was trying to drag our children into this craziness.
I had endured 23 years of this craziness and I held on because I didn’t want to leave my children with this crazy woman. It turns out she was a paranoid schizophrenic and this illness was getting progressively worse. I finally couldn’t take any more of this craziness and I had to leave. We divorced and, of course, she got all of the children so she could continue to indoctrinate them with this craziness.
She did a real job on several of our children, but after they began to leave home and live a life on their own and mixed with other normal people they began to see how sick their mother was.
I reminisce about all of these bad memories because they began to make me think more about religion and what it can do to sick people. It can also do the same thing to sane people who are weak and afraid of going to Hell because of the constant indoctrination that all religions do to their adherents.
The fear of going to Hell is a real fear in most Christians and it affects them through out their life. It’s amazing to me what power all the various Christian religions hold over their adherents with this fear.
After getting divorced, remarrying (a sane woman this time), and working through my career and retiring, I finally realized how little I knew about the Christian religion. I knew all of the good Bible stories and all the rules, doctrines, and regulations of both the Baptist and Catholic religions, but I realized how ignorant I was of how these things actually came about. Who was it that said and why did they say that Catholics couldn’t use contraceptives, that priests couldn’t get married, that women couldn’t become priests, that Baptists couldn’t dance or gamble, that we were all born sinners because of original sin, that Jesus was born from the Virgin Mary, that Mary was sinless and always a Virgin and ascended into heaven without dying, that Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead, that you would commit a mortal sin if you ate meat on Fridays, that masturbation was a mortal sin, that you could only perform certain specified sexual acts and not others, that wine and bread would be turned into Christ’s real blood and real body only if a priest said the correct words, that you could have your sins forgiven only if you told them to a priest, that abortion is a mortal sin, that you could only go to heaven if you believed in Christ and his resurrection and were given grace, and what is grace?, that God from all eternity knows who will be saved and there is nothing you can do about it, that there really is no free will since God knows what your fate is no matter what you do. Who made these rules and when did they all start?
Well I studied and read the Bible, read scholarly historical and archaeological findings, read Christian literature, read agnostic and atheist literature, read the history of Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Mormonism for five years, and I have finally decided that there is no God and that the Christian religion is based on a supposition that Christ was crucified for our sins and arose from the dead. This is the supposition that all of Christianity depends on and if this is not true then the whole religion falls apart like a house made of cards. It turns out that there were no eyewitnesses of the resurrection that wrote anything about it. All of the gospels were written by people (and they weren’t the actual people named for these gospels) that were not eyewitnesses of Christ and all the miracles that he was supposed to have performed and they were all written 30-60 years after his death. The apostle Paul wrote his epistles closest to the time of Christ’s death, but he never saw or knew Christ. So if no one actually saw Christ arisen from the dead, how can we really believe what the gospels say? Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Mormonism are even more fantastically outlandish than Christianity could ever be.
If there was a God, don’t you think he would leave some clue that he existed? With all of our scientifically modern technology, don’t you think that we could get a small clue of God’s existence? Where is that clue? Scientists have searched this world and the universe over and there is still no clue. Why is it that miracles seemed to have come to an abrupt end after the gospels were written? If there was a God, don’t you think that miracles would still be taking place? Why did the twelve disciples get all the good luck and none was saved for the rest of us? What else can one conclude except that he’s not there? Have any of you ever actually spoken with God like they supposedly did in the Old Testament? Why did all the communications with God stop two thousand years ago? If anyone knows of a good scientifically valid clue that God exists, I would like to know about it because I’m tired of searching for it.