From Wooly Liberals to the Back End of Palestine…

15 07 2009

I wish to look more at the dichotomy that is so apparent between religious actuality and the bible. As a Christian, I never did prefer a literalistic interpretation of scripture… but why?

Resoundingly, the reason was underneath it all, I simply didn’t believe it to be true, so I bypassed it and I ‘cherry-picked’. Theologians, especially our friends the woolly liberals (CoE etc) would cry at me, “but we’re moving on! We’re making the bible relevant! Jesus loves gays, it’s OK!” Many people don’t preach this- but too many people are… It’s a travesty of theology. The bible in its canonised form, which, if you are in any way reformed theologically speaking, is the authoritative word of God. I believe Timothy had a something to say on the matter. If it’s the authoritative word of God- which, it might as well be- I mean, why would God lay down in history an imperfect book to represent himself? A world-wide best seller is a good way of publicising yourself… you may as well make it perfect in every sense if you’re the almighty. If this is true by theology, then why are churches teaching it’s OK to be a practicing gay man, and bless gay-marriages… that it’s OK to do many things just not preached in the bible. The bible says you must go through Jesus to be saved on to eternal life… but then liberals would say, “we believe God is good and just and fair….”. Pardon me if I read that God is also a jealous God on top of that- and it never says anywhere in the new testament that he will save non-believers after Christ’s ascension to heaven, let alone the horrific verses in the book of Revelation, detailing the rapture of the faithful. “It’s a faith thing”… of course it is. Furthermore, they throw at you the quotes of Galatians about being free from the law and all things are permissible whilst under the law.. and then we go into very different theology. Not all things are beneficial but everything is permissible. What a loop-hole and certainly not what Jesus had in mind.

As with most of scripture, sense is washed into the background and ‘faith’ prevails as the great equalizer. But how? Why would God make this doctrinal stance so complicated? Saved by grace, saved through faith, saved by works, but not by works alone? The letter to the Ephesians was a dialectical nightmare for theologians back in the day… it continues to be.

I mean, obviously- I’m being facetious- and I’m not so wilfully ignorant of Christian theology to know that if you take a specific doctrinal stance- you can make it make sense. Of course you can. We’re intelligent human beings. (It doesn’t help that it’s still all crap though.)

But why is it not unified? As the ‘body of Christ’ – why are Christians not unified? The Christian church, corporeally speaking, looks like the charred remains of a dismembered bomb victim. Mormons and Jehovah’s witnesses, counted as Christian denominations, are two groups which are evidence if ever there was any evidence, that simply anyone can write a book that coheres with a previous book and satiates a human demand for numinousity… only the New Testament had nearly 2000 years to shape and hone itself into a self-fulfilling text before people could ‘truly’ examine it with a better knowledge and grasp of the world, through many cultures, times, peoples and trials.

Prophecy. It makes me incredibly frustrated when people point out the servant songs of Isaiah and Jesus being ‘Led like a lamb’ to the slaughter and killed and rising on the third day in glory. OF COURSE. He must be the messiah, because it’s written in one book that’s what would happen… and it’s written in this other book, a long time after the first one, that that’s what does happen. I mean, I take it that people comprehend that all the people who wrote the New Testament had to do… was read the Old Testament? So they basically just had to be from a Jewish background (or have some Jewish teaching in the case of Luke) and have lived in the area of Jerusalem. Furthermore, the ‘historical’ reliability of the text is an interesting casing point.Maybe it’s accurate though. Maybe Luke wrote that whole gospel and his facts were, as Sir William Ramsay puts it, “as a first class historian” would have written them. We’re talking about the author’s ability to describe his surrounding landscape, when people praise his ability !! The LANDSCAPE around him, and write in a bit of detail about certain places. That certainly does make him geographically reliable… and maybe the therefore events happened too. But in terms of numinous reliability- who on earth could bestow the rank of a ‘first rate mystic/Godly man’ on to Luke? We have simply no idea… he’d never met Jesus… neither had many of the writers of the NT. It’s woeful, because we throw such respect at the historical reliability of the gospels without pausing to think that it doesn’t matter one single bit- because it doesn’t mean Jesus even existed. I mean, JK Rowling was able to depict Kings Cross station rather well in her Harry Potter series- but it doesn’t mean that Harry Potter existed… or any of the incidental characters he meets on his journey. A frivolous example, I’ll grant you- but the same would apply for novels of classical English literature- looking at Brontë and Austen… both can describe lovely cities and quaint little villages with religious fervour, but it means nothing when deciphering the truth of a story.

“Why would they lie though?” – Oh please. Let’s not start that. Delusion? Corruption? Misplaced faith? Maybe they weren’t lying at all but truly believed in something they had no evidence to prove. Look at how much the Catholic church is worth today. Look how much money the ‘mega-churches’ make today.. not that everyone in religion is out there for the money. I honestly don’t believe that. I believe that religious fervour can be very genuine. But misplaced. We rely on relics and insular words of wisdom. We rely on the pious words of a bygone era and our own disjointed thoughts to clamber together a ‘God’ in our mind.

Why, if there were a God, would you leave a world with not one piece of proof that he exists?

“Because we live in a scientific era now, we seeks evidence that’s not feasible” – Let me leave with this. Is that not an awfully depressing thing to think that God could not have forseen this woe and conflict of our age and is static to within one age of the earth (the Jewish one… in a small city… in the back end of Palestine….) I understand Christians who say that God wants to love us, but blind-faith is better than forced-faith through brute-evidence… but I don’t buy it. I think it’s a cop-out… we wouldn’t need THAT much evidence… maybe just a little raising from the dead? Maybe just a little curing the blind… the sick… the lame… but he doesn’t. He never did.


Did I miss something?

11 07 2009

Well- I’m back, and exams are over! Having passed, I’m ready to maybe take on another pile of blogging requests and writing. 🙂

Over the past few months, I have been conversing with quite a few religious people, atheists and agnostics alike. It’s been fantastic and a worthwhile experience. I’ve shared my views with them, and they’ve shared their views with me. Maybe I’ve added food for thought, because they added fuel to the fire of discussion with me.

So, back to the title of my discussion. Did I miss something? I think I must have… having broken out of the confines of a relatively strict, protestant church, I’ve been simply astounded by poor theology and even poorer preaching. In terms of protestant doctrine… when did Christians become so biblically lamentable!? There are so many things that are ‘supposed’, guessed and even just bypassed from the bible. Lately, I was in discussion with someone… who told me that the fate of sinners wasn’t all ‘hell fire and brimstones’. Whereas I agree that it’s not… their theological basis for such a claim was rather wanting. Calvin would be turning in his grave! Far from me wanting to discourage a progressionism from within the church- you do have to realise that what scripture says, to the protestants, should dictate what they believe. I do vehemently pay hommage to the Brethren and the Calvinists for not ‘cherry-picking’ the bits they like.

Surely, if it was so compelling… surely… all Christians would ‘honour their body as a temple of the holy spirit’… surely all of them would not smoke… surely all of them would honour the bible as it has been laid down, without excuse or waiver. Well- this seems not to be the case. More and more Christians who I talk to, give the timid, almost apologetic ‘well.. yeh, I do believe that…’ with a pint-glass in hand and a stagger in their step. It’s time to stop this dichotomous rubbish. They evidently don’t believe it enough. Maybe my evidence was anecdotal, but it’s true. There are far too many Christians who don’t understand, don’t WANT to understand and never will understand basic theology… why is this important? Well- we’re not even talking cretinous people here- we’re talking doctors, lawyers… who ‘believe’ in the talking snake, the garden of Eden, Jesus’ miraculous ascension into heaven… the raising of the dead… well- they probably just ‘believe’ Jesus saves if not the rest of it. But, you can’t have one without the other. We must stop cherry-picking and READ the bible… I mean, we’re told to ‘study it to show thyself approved onto God’ and that, “all scripture is authoritive”. We’re talking about the book that fortells the end of the earth… and our condemnation to hell… strictly… if you follow protestant doctrine… about 5 billion people… to hell… or closer to 6 billion in some sects.

Have some sense. Read your bible. It’s time you did and realised the amount of nonsense with respect to today and us as a society and community today, within.

The Catholic Church in Ireland- An Era of Abuse and Scandal

9 04 2009

In one of the most shaming eras of abuse and scandal, the Catholic Church in Ireland recently met to discuss the issue of Child Sex Abuse. Famously, Roman Catholic priests are required to remain celibate and unmarried, in order to focus their love and emphasise their devotion to God. The theology behind this, is grounded in the texts of the New Testament, following the examples of Peter and other Apostles. Is it not time to perhaps realise how religion, again, plays such an important role in the lives of many. Having done plentiful research on the matter; I have no hesitation to say that the way in which the crimes were perpetrated where a direct abuse of power, instilled on those because they were religious priests. The respect endowed upon these men is of paramount importance when considering why these cases were able to occur. They were religious- and so, especially in an era before general-population enlightenment, were respected irrespective of whether or not that respect had been earned. Their access to children, again was due to their pastoral role involving children. The Catholic church has always placed an emphasis on children, in terms of first communion and baptism; guiding and moulding them into the adults they would become. A famous phrase floated around Ireland, the Catholic church, Jesuit motto “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man,” which is based on a quotation by Francis Xavier. Children were given into the church during their most formative years, to be nourished and to develop.

Reading a list of the cases on the Internet, (this source in Wikipedia, is a concise one… here and a list here.) is a macabre experience.  We should really be questioning, whether allowing our children into the hands of an institution which has such a horrific history of abuse. The worst thing is, it’s still going on.

Given the case against religious faith in terms of credibility and truth; we should probably seriously consider whether we allow our children near church at all; for all the good it does.

BBC Article

Ireland’s Catholic bishops have met in County Kildare to discuss the issue of child sex abuse.

It is understood more details about the internal audit which will be carried out in each diocese in Ireland were discussed.

The discussions followed the Irish Government’s decision to set up an inquiry into child sex abuse by priests and members of religious orders.

The bishops of all the 26 dioceses – in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – attended the meet at St Patrick’s College in Maynooth.

Dr Patrick Walsh: Pastoral letter

Dr Patrick Walsh: “Share the shame”

Last week, the Bishop of Down and Connor, Dr Patrick Walsh, said he shared the “confusion and shame” felt by so many over the clerical sex abuse scandal.

The Catholic Church’s investigation into allegations of child sex abuse will go back more than 60 years.

The independent audit will be carried out by lay people who are experts in child protection and legislation.

Dr Walsh said a “vital part” of the healing process was to establish the truth about how complaints were dealt with by the church.

The bishop said the protection of children was of paramount importance.

Cardinal Desmond Connell: Deeply aware of the damage

Cardinal Desmond Connell: Deeply aware of the damage

Archbishop of Dublin, Cardinal Desmond Connell, has spoken of the “evil of child sex abuse by priests”.

The cardinal said he was deeply aware of the damage it was causing the Catholic Church, and said the church would take whatever further action was necessary.

Earlier this month, an emergency meeting was held at Maynooth when the church revealed it was establishing its own inquiry into how it dealt with such complaints.

String of scandals

The latest controversy followed allegations that Father Sean Fortune – a Catholic priest who committed suicide three years ago – sexually abused children.

The Pope has accepted the resignation of Dr Brendan Comiskey, the Bishop of Ferns in County Wexford, following criticism of how he handled the case of Father Fortune.

Bishop Brendan Comiskey

Bishop Brendan Comiskey admitted he had not protected children

Dr Comiskey admitted he had not done enough to protect children in his County Wexford diocese.

The Ferns case has triggered fresh claims of clerical sex abuse incidents and a flood of anger in overwhelmingly Catholic Ireland, where the church’s image has been severely damaged by a string of scandals in the last decade.

Pressure on the Catholic Church has also increased elsewhere in recent months, with a number of abuse allegations in the United States culminating in legal action against some of the most senior figures in the church’s hierarchy.

How Religion Poisons Everything

26 03 2009

How religion poisons everything. I’ve been re-reading portions of Christopher Hitchen’s ever-so-inflammatory, “God is not great: How Religion Poisons Everything.” It’s a fantastic read, and one I thoroughly recommend. The book follows suit, albeit facetiously, of the titles of Christian books like Dinesh D’Souza’s apology and appraisal, “Why God is Great” and “What’s so great about America”.

What struck me with the title was that it is a title with no opt-outs. What I mean is that there’s no room for question- the title is unequivocally provocative- and undeniably unapologetic. “Why religion poisons everything”… I guess for the full answer, you’ll have to read the book. However, I would like to add something to Professor Hitchens’ accounts, if not retelling a few of his stories along the way. Is it the case that religion poisons everything because it is the ‘opiate of the masses’ as Karl Marx so politely put it? An old quote sure, but nonetheless an important realisation of why it’s so dangerous. Christianity and Islam, thrive off the wonderful concept of ‘not knowing’ and therefore ‘assuming’ whether by the numinous or by scripture, that something divine adequately explains the universe and all in it. Christians would now look scornfully at me, and adamantly protest that they hold true to the virtues of a God-given book- but this is all hot air- as I’ve looked at before. I won’t waste your time doing it again- but do read my earlier articles, if you haven’t already.

As I have expressed before, I believe middle-of-the-road theists – in my own culture, Christians, to be enablers and they cherry-pick the bits that fit in with the current moral-zeitgeist; if they don’t, they’re deemed intolerant and un-‘PC’ by most of the public. I am inclined to agree with such a label. They are enablers, because they allow themselves to be susceptible to dangerous ideas; which are bred under the idea that there is a God-inspired force at work in our everyday lives, events and opinions. If we look at the Palestinian-Israeli conflict at the moment; regardless of ‘who is right’- we must look at their respective mandates and claim to the land. All of which, are based upon ancient scripture. The God of the Jews, Yahweh, gave his people the land- and it’s rightfully theirs. Alternatively, the Palestinian view is something similar. The problem is further compounded by the hysterical clerics on both sides who refute each other’s respective theologies with babble and jihads. People so easily comment that such things would happen regardless of a biblical, or holy, mandate. But this I refute. There are few things more powerful than a biblical mandate, or reason for dwelling somewhere. If it’s ‘given by God’.. well, that’s irrefutable. If it’s ‘just because we live here’- it’s suddenly a different matter and, whilst people would still care- it wouldn’t hold as much importance or significance. Crudely put- it matters a lot, whether religion is involved. Even in Northern Ireland- protestant churches would actually see their presence as due to the British influence and regard their existence as God-willed. God wants them to be there- and if God wants them to be there, he doesn’t want the Catholic church there; the state-church of the Republic of Ireland. Therefore, the rightful claim to the land is the protestant claim to the land, which is British. It all stems from religion. It’s all nonsense.

Looking at Northern Ireland at the moment, we see violence and bombs once again. However, this, I am confident is not now to do with the theology of the respective side. I suspect most of the proponents of violence and terror, could even spell ‘transubstantiation’ let alone understand the theology behind it.

It is, however, historically related. It is totally appropriate to look back in the history books and find the divide caused in Northern Ireland, is totally and unapologetically to do with religion. Amongst many of the middle-class of Northern Ireland; many people still believe the ‘other side’ to be different and not to be trusted, through a deep and in-bred conviction, compounded by the likes of the Reverend Dr Ian Paisley and his imbecilic, homophobic and benighted son of the same name. Earlier last year, a member of his party, the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) Iris Robinson MP, announced in parliament that there was nothing worse than paedophilia other than homosexuality- and she even recommended a good psychiatrist who could ‘fix’ those with such an affliction. When quizzed by the media, Mrs Robinson MP, wife of Peter Robinson MP, the first minister of Northern Ireland, said that if we “disagreed with her, we disagreed with God and his word”. Mrs Robinson and many members of the Democratic Unionist Party are Free Presbyterians, and also believe that Roman Catholics are all going to burn in pits of sulphur in hell. I can personally recall a particularly robust sermon from Dr Paisley on the matter. They also subscribe to the theology of Calvin, who believed in predestination; meaning that God has already appointed people to heaven. It is a bit more complicated thatn this, but in other words, he already knew before we existed, who would go to heaven. My point is, quite clearly, that whilst the violence in Northern Ireland might have crossed the line of religion into mindless brutality- the mindset of a great number of people- most prominently and worryingly, the people in power, is intolerant and benighted to the point of ridicule. How is a teenager, uncertain of his or hers’ sexuality meant to feel- and how are their parents meant to ever accept something that is a democratic right in the UK (freedom of self, and sexuality) if cretins such as Mrs Robinson MP and her ilk are spouting such vehemently hateful nonsense, which will almost definitely infiltrate the minds of an already tight-knit and close (not closed) society. Christians claim to get their morality from the bible and from God. If this is the sort of morality that the bible contains within it then my point is valid and religion can be poisonous and ultimately poisons everything. It poisons everything due to its emphatic, involved and pitiful view of humanity. It depreciates the human race by calling it ‘fallen’, in the case of the Abrahamic religions. The crunch-point is, that it is completely justifiable if you adhere to the biblical scripture. If you don’t adhere to the part of the bible where it says, for example, that ‘homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God’ and call yourself a Christian by realising and actualising within yourself Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross- then I don’t know Christianity is anymore- other than a lot of cherry-picked axioms from an old and dusty tome. If that is you- then you’ve realised your own religion, and it departs from anything I have knowledge and guidance on. Society obviously rules religion, demonstrated by the great shifts in opinion, doctrine and theologies in the past century or so.

Do not assume something to be benign, just because in your experience it has been (through passivity and uniformed theology I might add)- because I can hotly contest- in my experience it has not been. If you follow the bible truly, it can lead to a lot of heartache and misery. If you pick and chose what you believe… all the nice verses and the ones which make you feel good – you might as well not believe in it at all.

The Q&A

16 03 2009

One of my Q&A’s from a recent event:

Q. Tell me, David, why you have a problem with Religion?
I think it’s false. I think it is supremely untrue, lacking in evidence and completely unjustifiable. I think that’s where we’re at in the debate. I have a problem with Religion because, put simply, it worries me that people in a scientific, somewhat enlightened generation, can hold beliefs that simply do not have any evidential basis in reason. The problem with Religion is, that I could just as easily say, “I believe in the tooth fairy”, but more worrying so- no one could logically say I was wrong, using the premises that religion uses. I think this a disgrace.

Q. Why is it a disgrace? Why can you not just accept that faith, or a religious worldview holds a key standing in many people’s lives and that it’s just as respectable as scientific worldview?
Well- that’s just the problem; it’s not just as respectable. I could criticize your politics, your taste in music (to use an argument coined by the famous Richard Dawkins) and it would be fine; criticize your religion; and that’s a whole other matter altogether. Why? Why should religion not be up to scrutiny? My main problem with religion is the fundamental basis of it; creationism- especially in the Abrahamic religions. It’s just not up for scrutiny by science. Why? Because it’s just not. We’ve been conditioned to believe that we shouldn’t question religion; and I think this is wrong. I also think that the Intelligent Design movement, to encompass evolution into religion is a sham- it’s impossible to do so. It is cherry-picking the best bits out of the creation account in Genesis  or it’s Koranic counterfable and personally interpreting them to fit in with what science has told us.

Q. But what really is so wrong with Intelligent Design?
Well- I do believe it’s a sham. You cannot just re-write two millennia of belief to fit in with reality- it’s just not on. It’s very false to do so. In the semantics of it- I suppose there’s nothing too wrong with it- if they say evolution happened, but God started it- well, that is their belief- but; there’s something about it that reeks of desperation to try and make religion “modern” and “acceptable” to science.

Creationists moreover, know that if the bible is wrong; and the creation account is untrue, that the bible’s relevance and authority falls apart in their hands (another reason for the “desperation” of the ID movement)- and they seem to think that this is the same with science- and if they pick out some bits that they think are wrong- (which often, usually, in fact, aren’t- such as fossil recording; C14 dating etc) then science falls down as well- this is not true. Science is cumulative and embraces change and development. It wants to be changed, if the evidence is there- that’s how we learn. You can’t pick holes in science and watch it collapse; but you can pick gaping holes in creationism- and, to be quite honest- it’s ridiculous. I need only think of Dr Gist and Ken Ham to be seriously concerned with the scientific community who embrace creationism. It’s actually, as Dawkins puts it, “like a Monty Python sketch”.

Q. But why is this coming to light now, why not earlier on in the history of man?

Well- it’s only fairly recently that we have found incontrovertible evidence (although, to creationists- it can always be somehow “washed away” with counter-examples) to support evolution. God was always the “mystery” of the universe; and that he created us and “breathed” live into us, is simply what we were taught- because, well, why not? There was, previously, no evidence to suggest otherwise.  We have it now though! Like, previously we could not understand Tuberculosis or treat it- now we can; and we do- we vaccinate against it and treat it. We live in a kind of cumulative process of facts and acquiring knowledge- and religion does not account for this, nor will it- and that is the crux of my point. This worries me because it is holding the progress of science back because good biologists are having to overcome hurdles and obstacles that religious people put in front of them to make their ideas and evidence be shown. Darwin, for instance; constantly worried about the politically active religious lobby in his day- and yet, it didn’t make his theory any the less true. It was just hard for them to accept. Acceptance of theory to many theists is not dependent on its factual basis- but on it’s implications to their religious belief. This is wrong, it’s not scientific and they are lying to themselves. I do not comprehend how people can be able scientists and be creationists whenever they willingly look over such vast quantities of evidence and even try (like Dr Gist and Ken Ham) to explain it away with ridiculous anecdotes about carbon dating not being true or fossil records lying- they don’t understand evolution and they don’t understand science.

Q. Why does this rattle your cage so much?

A good question! It rattles me because I see it stupefying many intelligent people. I find this very hard to accept; and I find it upsets me when people postulate a useless explanation- it just doesn’t have a place anymore in rational thinking- because it can shown to be irrational. To me; that is the crux of it- how can we believe in something that consistently proves itself to be false and tantamount to a lie? This makes no sense and it causes, therefore, more problems that it should (because it’s not true). People say that religion gives them security; and yes, that would match Freud’s view of religion more than Jung’s- both would postulate that God has a special part in out psyche; but we need to appreciate that it’s not manifest and it’s simply not real. It is often commented on by theists that you cannot hold religion and science up and scrutinize them together; but, why not? You can hold up anything else in the world to empirical, physical scrutiny- even psychology and abstract forms of art have a basis in reality and the world around us- as they are composed of physical components that the brain interprets. We may not know why the brain interprets it in such a way in some instances- but the important thing is that such interpretation is based on a physical representation of something, rather than something totally beyond logical belief. Even concepts, theories and ideas are grounded in reality- Marxism was based on a valid economic model, so is utilitarianism, democracy, socialism- they are all based in reality. Religion seems to be based in reality in so far as it has people communicating with God, in literature; but we have no experience or ideas about God that are tangible or even provable. It’s all subjective, secretive and rather cultish. It’s also dangerous, because even the slightest bad thing that can be attributed to something that doesn’t stand up to logical thinking, should make it redundant- there are too many other evils in the world to contend with, without one that doesn’t even make sense.

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain…

28 02 2009

One of the best lines from The Wizard of Oz, when Toto realises there’s more than appears to the situation in front of himself and Dorothy is, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”. An obvious fictitious film , but a really good example. I heard this phrase in the context of religion tonight when watching American Bill Maher, the hilarious writer of the film ‘Religulous’ and world-famous comedian. (here) He was talking about how religion was ultimately something that was a luxury for people who don’t really need it; but really great for people who do. Why can’t God just defeat the devil? It’s just the same reason as a comic book character can’t kill his arch-nemesis… there’d be no story if he did.

Of course, in terms of systematic theology, one has a problem with that. Accounting for the fallen nature of the human condition, as Adam’s seed, we have a lot to account for to God! If you ascribe to the authority of the bible, then you should believe that God will erase evil and the beat the devil as foretold in revelation. Alas, when you accompany this story with the incredulous claims of the miraculous which have no evidential basis, the ‘metaphors’ and the wooly suspension of disbelief… isn’t it all a bit unlikely? It’s just all too convenient. People often say that’s the beauty of it- and it does seem a beautiful alternative… if there was any evidence whatsoever for it. To believe in the miraculous is a strange position… why do you only believe in the miraculous of your own religion?

The reason why it’s so problematic is that there is an immediate intellectual problem with believing in the intangible, it leaves the door open for anything; as I’ve discussed before.

Something someone said to me the other night, really affected me also….
“I’ve never seen any good reason to believe in any of it… I mean, who wouldn’t want to ‘continue for eternity with one’s creator’? It sounds like bliss… a perfect outcome.”

I thought this, from a valued and intellectual friend, was a very sombre reminder to me, of humanity. I, personally, would like nothing more than for there to be a God… for him to be relational, tangible, worshipable, praisable and knowable. I would love to live eternally, by following my creator’s rules and living under his love… for, if I could experience God as it sets out in the bible that I should be able to, I’d love Him… I really would. I fear however, that I have very little experience of that God.. and that Jesus. I have a lot of experience of people telling me what it’s like for them, and a lot of anecdotal investments in the claims. I just want a snippet of comprehension.

Then, also, if God is just- then why do we tremble about him? We tremble at him as we have done in scripture for generations. We are fearful of his judgement and expectant of impending trial. The problem for me is that as an ex-Christian, who appreciates the intelligencia behind some of religion’s finer attributes such as literature, architecture, poetry and exegesis… it still doesn’t make sense. I can’t credit myself as an intellectual and believe what can be compared to a fairy-story, and with no more stoicism.

It’s a problem because how can America, one of the ‘superpowers’ really be deciding policies and world-affecting strategies whenever a majority of the voting public truly believe in the devil as a character who will toast your ass in hell for eternity? This is important when deciding what is and what is not, ‘evil’. In some states, homosexuality is still not credited with civil-partnerships, through remnant biblical mandate. Furthermore, such people, in an intellectual capacity believe that Dinosaurs are lies and stuff of fiction and that Adam and Eve existed, in the garden of Eden with a talking snake and Noah took two of every animal into a massive Ark… in the face of evidence. When you take it all into a systematic account, isn’t it quite worrying that someone who believed in things like that, up until very, very recently had his ‘finger on the button’?

Please feel free to disagree- but, I put it to you ladies and gentlemen- that to have faith in what the bible truly teaches is to be taken in my nonsense and paranormal-superstition that has a hold over many people. I emplore you, not to agree with me, but to use your own brains and work it out yourself… you can be sure if someone is telling you ‘they know’ what God wants for you… they’re wrong- unless they have intellectual or super-powers that you do not. Maybe I am wrong, and I’ll allow for that… but at least I gave it a good shot before I decided it was all a load of dangerous and strange, nonsense.

What does it matter?

22 02 2009

What does it matter if we don’t believe the truth? There are indeed many atheists who would say that faith is a comfort and a joy in people’s lives. For many, it instills hope and imbibes courage… it gives freedom and what really, does the truth have to do with it?

Well, I for one, do not believe in false hope. I would rather know, if what I was believing was a lie or false. To be otherwise inclined, is I think, intellectually stifling and pedagogically dangerous. If we choose to believe in non-verifiable truths we are choosing a dangerous ground to walk on- where do we draw the line? Do we draw the line whenever there are people who seriously believe that people of African descent are cursed by God because of the colour of their skin, rather than the scientific answer? (I’ll admit, this is no longer a very prominent view at all). Do we stop whenever people blow themselves up because of differences of opinion- like in Northern Ireland or Israel, Iraq and the US? To be a middle-of-the road theist, is to be an enabler. One, through being complicit in agreeing that there is something higher, in the form that the said organized religion says, is enabling conflict and extremist views.

For one matter, it’s pretty astounding stuff… I mean, if you believe that God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent… then that’s pretty extraordinary!! Isn’t it, however, rather odd- that you never do really come to terms with Him? That, we still ‘sin’ and smoke, drink, copulate before marriage, have alternative sexuality, loud music, drugs, rock-and-roll and swear-words whenever this God has forbidden them upon penalty of ultimate damnation? An exaggeration perhaps, but, you can see my point… It just doesn’t square up- it could be, COULD be, part of our ‘fallen’ nature as Adam’s seed… or it could be a lot of nonsense? I don’t know..

For most theists, they live like God isn’t present inside them, as if they react to him when they suddenly think upon Him (which may be a lot for some!) – but, he’s not really intrinsically linked with us… if he really was… we wouldn’t have the problems we have now… which are massive. We have a severely divided, segregated church… Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholics, Protestants, Quakers… all different claims under the same God. What sort of God allows that? What sort of God is right? Everyone’s claiming left, right and center they ‘know’ God’s will and ‘plan’… who’s telling the truth? What sort of God is that?

“One that doesn’t interfere and allows free will”, the theist says. “One who doesn’t exist or has any power over us” say I. You were told by a book which conveniently explains away the gaping holes in the suspension of disbelief by preaching the same old virtue of faith and perseverance; which are perhaps not always the best virtues. It’s the same, effectively, as explaining away “why?” with “just coz'”. Which is not very satisfying to me anyway. Some people are satisfied with just ‘leaving it up to God… because his ways are higher’. But I’d like to examine that…

To say that you believe in God, despite having no good evidence to do so, is not very odd. I’ll admit that- we do look for higher things to explain away what we don’t know. But isn’t that just ignorance rather than deduced rationalism? It is possibly the ultimate non-sequitor. Why on earth would God exist, just because we don’t know how the universe started off? What if there was a good explanation apart from God that we don’t know yet? The problem with religion is that it teaches us to be happy with not understanding- and that’s not very tolerable to me. To believe in God, at least the personal Abrahamic God, in light of science and in light of the sheer wealth of alternatives is astonishing to me. Maybe not to others- and I’ll allow them that- but, to me, it’s astonishing. The fact that one can say with conviction- “the majority of other people are wrong, because I ‘know’ in my heart that Jesus saves me” is tantamount to being ridiculous when you look at the 90%+ of other people who disagree with your theology (I feel it inappropriate to include all of the denominations of Christianity as ‘one’ because they are all so inately different). To say that, ‘God must exist because most people in the world believe in a God’ is also questionable. Yes, many many people believe in God around the world- but it’s not the same one as the other religion; in fact- their religion is teaching its’ followers that your religion’s adherents are all going to hell. Many many people believed that the earth was flat (apparently) and my grandmothers’ grandmother believed that chewing-gum got stuck in your kidneys.. it doesn’t make it true. Facts make things true, and so does evidence.

So why does all this matter? Why does it matter to believe in ‘the truth’. The truth, I term to mean, believing that we simply just DO NOT KNOW what created this universe if anything even did. The fact that there is not one shred of evidence, save anecdotal, to suggest Jesus was the son of God, or that Mohammad was God’s true prophet. It’s important because, if we don’t seek the truth- we are selling ourselves short of our true potential and actualization. We are trapped to regiment if we do not realise that the book that tells us so much- the bible’s New Testament- has been written over many hundreds of years, by men who were not divinely inspired, but had just read the prequel. All I’m seeking to do, is instill a doubt; what if, this is wrong. In statistical terms, you probably are incorrect; if all views and experiences are equal when we look around the world. I fail to see how a theist could say they weren’t all equal; why is the evidence testimony of a Muslim any less valid?

I wish to instill a doubt, because it’s the only logical thing to have- not blinkered certainty in any direction. I wish to instill a doubt, because what people believe matters- because it affects us all. In terms of political and pedagogical policy against teaching evolution in spite of the evidence, in terms of anti-abortion lobbying, in terms of limiting human freedom and in terms of teaching false hope.

So.. does it matter? Yes it does. Does it matter if it’s being taught against the grain of systematic and empirical logic- whenever we use the same logic for every single other thing in our life? Yes.

I think it’s immoral to lie to children, and tell them they’ll burn in hell if they don’t believe your set regiments and beliefs- because you don’t know. I think it’s perverse and wrong in their formative years to tell them that they’ll go to purgatory or straight to the ‘inner circle’ if you follow Danté’s quite shocking and poorly written, one might add, “Divine Comedies”. You’re also denying them freedom of choice.. the last time I checked, the penalty for apostasy in Islam was being stoned to death and in the Protestant faith, non-belief, involves being condemned to eternal pits of ‘fire and sulphur’ as it was put to me. If you let children grow up in a bubble all by themselves, they might even develop a new religion- because it’s just not all that evident as it seems. It’s all from a very old, very dusty, very questionable storybook. Alternatively, it’s not- and it’s all true; but I find it all highly unlikely.