January 1, 2012
I once said that I would write an atheist manifesto, but this is not it. However, religion and atheism is the subject of this writing. If you don’t like the idea of subjugating American religion and ridding it from our government (ode to the complete and absolute separation of church and state) then you will not like this writing.
If you ask a religious person how long they have been practicing, you will more than likely hear that they’ve been immersed in it for as long as they can remember. Ask them if they could imagine a life and world without it and they would have trouble contemplating such a thing.
How does a person who once believed in metaphysical concepts and spiritual naivety suddenly find themselves in apparent opposition to those beliefs? They don’t. It doesn’t suddenly happen. Doubt is required, just a small glimmer of inquisitive thought about a religion’s structure, laws, beliefs, leaders, any foundational prerequisite and from that small question grows, what I call, the small hope of reason. And every human being is capable of finding reason and logic. The only difference between those who do and those who don’t is desire. What you yearn for, has the power to change everything you believe.
I was born and raised Catholic for some 15 or 16 years. When you are brought up and taught to believe that something is real, you have little ability to question or deny those beliefs of their supposed truth. Essentially, you are brain-washed into believing it. Fooled into believing it. You don’t have a choice, it is force-fed for years and years and the outside notion that it isn’t true is beyond your ability to comprehend. That is until you reach a certain age and have a substantial degree of external experience.
Going from being Christian to being atheist is a slow and gradual process. It has taken me about eight years to go from believing what the bible and religious leaders say to outright denying them any serious legitimacy. That journey has been peppered with experiences in other religions and spiritual belief systems, and even a rebirth into Christianity. All experiences that I believe were essential in my eventual embrace of atheism.
It’s similar to when people try to quit smoking. You gradually step down from that addiction and you realize that you don’t need it to survive. Religion is like an addiction. Though you deep down inside subconsciously don’t believe, you consciously fear not believing. Not believing is a state of mind you are unfamiliar with and it scares you to be without religious faith. Your mind conjures all these reasons and points as to why you should not stop, and where your mind doesn’t manifest excuses, the religious community you are a part of will joyfully convolute your thoughts and offer you repercussions for liberating yourself. Guilt, fear, punishment, this is a recipe for intellectual slavery.
Christians rally around the Bible as though it is a living part of their god. As is said, it is the “Word of God” though it’s really the greatest tool of mind control human beings have ever created and I’d throw the Qur’an right in there with it, along with every other religious “textbook” man has ever written. Again, that MAN has ever written because indeed they are written by human beings. Formed in the thoughts and desires of human beings for the sake of converting and controlling the minds of other human beings with fear and false hope. Organized religion is power, it is power over other human beings for political and monetary gain. The Bible is no more useful than your child’s Clifford: The Big Red Dog book.
The Bible is a collection of writings all believed by historians to have been written within several hundred years of each other by numerous individuals. None of them were written earlier than approximately 200 years after the death of Christ. In regards to the life and times of Christ, the Bible is literally all he-said-she-said material. Islam in this regard is no different. Most of the Qur’an originated from verbal teachings, collected into one volume after the death of Muhammad. The collection and publication of these writings in the centuries to follow their original versions was overseen by various other groups of individuals for both the Bible and the Qur’an, and most other religious texts. Why? It’s simple, to make sure it said exactly what those groups wanted them to say; those books are tools. Dare I say weapons.
If you discern a timeline according to the Bible, you will realize that the Earth was created some six-thousand or so years ago. That is obviously false. The process of carbon dating materials has already proven that untrue. We have the remains of people, civilizations, plants and animals that go far beyond the beginning of that timeline, some into the hundreds of millions of years ago.
The problem with putting all your trust into a collective book put together by groups of people more than a thousand years ago, and translated through many languages for centuries, you disregard every scientific discovery since and rely solely on what people knew (thought they knew) in a time where personal hygiene, reading and writing were either near to or were simply non-existent.
Nearly all the authors of the Old Testament were sexist and racist because in those days that was simply the environment those people lived in. Some of the content is so bad that the people in them would, today, be arrested or even thrown into mental health institutions. Skip several hundred years and you get to the New Testament which is really not a whole lot better. Most of the teachings of Jesus Christ, as they were recalled by authors hundreds of years after his death, were considered progressive, open minded and in many ways liberal for his time and he was looked upon negatively by many of the religious and political leaders of the Mediterranean regions in which he lived and traveled.
If I had the will to suffer through the agonizing burden of reading the Bible again and this time word for word, front to back, I could write a rather critical review. The few things I remember from it in my youth during class readings has typically been enough to sate any curiosity I’ve had. However, when I became a reborn Christian some six years ago, I did manage to make it one-third of the way through, which is also about as far as I made it through in the Qur’an. The Bible should be admired as a literary work of art, but holds no ground as a historical record or moral compass.
Religions are built upon fabrications of mystery and the reliance upon a lack of education and reason. Solve those mysteries and quench that lack of education and the fabric of faith unravels into the falsehood it has always been. For religion was born out of fearful ignorance and so it shall pass into history, a useless and primal concept.
Christianity teaches you not to question or doubt, that doing so is a sin in and of itself. To think for yourself is to realize the lie you are being fed. If ever there was a huge red flag, right there would be it. As to say, “Surrender your cognitive abilities to me or render yourself to a hellish damnation.” It’s almost worth laughing at if people didn’t actually take it literally and submit to it.
I’m ashamed that I ever believed. I am embarrassed that I once called myself Christian. I have remorse for those who still believe. However, I think that it’s a good thing I once lived in that state of mind because now I can look back and see how misguided and fool-hearted I was to think that what I was reading and believing was actually true. I couldn’t say that I understand what it’s like to be a believer, if I had never been one myself.
The reality is that atheists cannot abruptly convert an adult away from Christianity, or any other religion. What must exist before such a thing is a small seed of doubt. Without a reason to consider something else, you will never do so. So what was my reason? What allowed me to have doubt? My hunger for knowledge. For I believe that in time, all things are knowable through scientific inquiry. Perhaps not by those of us alive today, but by future generations of the human race. There in exists my faith, what gives me hope… the intellectual growth of humanity.
Just as other ancient belief systems and religions have been discarded, so too will those few religions that still exist today. No one, save a few nutcases, still believe in Poseidon, Greek god of the sea, and yet so many in that surrounding region once did along with a pantheon of other super beings. You ask Christians today, if they believe in the gods or goddesses of other religions current or past and they will unhesitatingly tell you that they don’t and that it’s absurd. The most evangelical of them will express disgust towards those false gods. How can they deny the existence of every other god and yet uphold the existence of their’s, when neither can be proven nor disproved?
If they are intelligent enough to deny the existence of all other gods and religions, how can they be so resolved to not hold their own religion and god under the same judgmental magnifying glass? The answer is desire. Want. Fear. These things force them to hold tight to their faith because again, a world without those things is a scary thing. But I bid them consider the lesson I have learned, of how liberating it is to finally leave it all behind. There is freedom outside the box in which they insist upon existing.
So what of god? If religions are merely man-made and completely fabricated control systems, then what of god apart from religion? What of the elemental concept of god, the unknown source of all the energy in the universe? Who started it, where and why did life begin? If you are asking these questions then you are well on your way to becoming atheist or at least agnostic and I applaud you. The core of every non-believer is the question and absolute desire to know and the ability to doubt even when we are given conclusions. It is a part of being human and in my opinion the greatest part of all.
The truth is that a creator god has neither been proven nor disproved. Today, science does not yet have the capabilities to give substantial theories either way. However, it is generally accepted that the Universe was not “handcrafted” as many religions would like you to believe. I personally also do not accept the Big Bang Theory as a definitive explanation. So I simply accept that I do not yet know and that I might never know, though that is not to say I won’t continue to ponder our universal origins.
Scientist and author, Richard Dawkins believes that it will one day be within our power to prove that god, as humanity understands him today, does not exist and therefore did not create the universe. Should be interesting to see that day and the response by world religions, though I’m reserved to think that it will change nothing for the most devout.
The leaders of religions the world over are very rarely ever innocent people seeking global love, peace and unity. The vast majority are power hungry, egotistical, self-centered individuals who sometimes don’t even believe the garbage they spit out of their own mouths and yet marvel in how easy it is to convince so many people to follow them and worst of all give them money so willingly and so freely without reservation. It’s sad, disgusting and disheartening to witness and be unable to do anything about it, but hold to the hope that one day people will wake up from their intellectual slumber and let that spark of doubt and curiosity engulf them in the purifying flames of reason and logic.
And finally that hovering darkness of religious oppression can be cast away, that poison of free thought, that disease wintering our ability to progress and move forward, will be gone. For religion is the erosion of the sagacious American intellect.
This essay is available as an audio track on SoundCloud: