It's been awhile since I have posted anything on here. Many of you have known me as sort of the resident theist during the time that I was very active in discussions, but now I think it's time to say that I can no longer call myself a Christian in any sort of traditional sense.
During my absence on here, I have spent a lot of time thinking and rethinking my position on things. Questioning, answering, and then questioning again over and over where my heart and head stood, and many a time things that were once a part of me gave way to something new and different - something far more liberating, and far more free than where I had ever been - and the birthing process was not an easy one. There were days, weeks, and months that every new thought and every new action spurred some sort of turmoil within myself, within my family, and within the family I grew up in. But somewhere along the way, I managed to keep things together, and my family (wife and children and the relationships involved) became a whole lot stronger for it. Thus, I think it is time to say that I have shed the husk of religion for something better, for something greater, and that something is simply me.
Religion, I think, is something we use as human beings to cover ourselves up in as a blanket of protection, but this blanket is unnecessary. It is a result of being told from a very young age that there is something wrong with us, when the reality is that there is nothing wrong with us. In fact, the only thing that is wrong is that we become sufferers of the mind - a mind prone to misinterpretation, egotistical hysteria, and misplaced emotions that are held onto for ungodly reasons. We are trained that acceptance comes from understanding, but I think the truth is that understanding comes from acceptance, and acceptance has to start by recognizing we are not always going to understand everything that comes our way in whatever form that this everything takes shape. Things are as they are and there is no reasoning behind it other than to learn in our present moment the how and the why. Or, maybe I am just full of shit right now.
Either way, religion, I believe is an evil in this world. For far too long, I have heard "Christianity isn't a religion, it's a personal relationship," and I have also been a user of this saying. Let me tell you though, anyone who says this is indeed full of shit, because if it was a personal relationship, there would be no need of emphasis within Christianity on "public confessions of faith" or baptisms. You would only need to accept the teachings of Jesus Christ as a way to live your life and strive to live out those teachings without ever having the need for a worship service to give your ego a pat on the back in front of the mindless mass of men and women who blindly follow a God who isn't there: a god defined by a religion and not a relationship. If Jesus Christ is about a relationship and not a religion, there would be no need for a right way or a wrong way to follow him. There would only be your way, and your way would be defined purely in the subjective of which you alone live. Surely, you would have common threads of understanding between you and your neighbor who sees life differently, but the fact is, the life you lead would be your own and unrestrained from the archaic and corrosive control of those in self-asserted authority in all things considered the right way to live. You would simply be you, and it would be far easier to live out this chaotic existence that we, as human beings, insanely try over and over again to impose order.
But like I said, maybe I am just being full of shit right now. The fact remains, however, that I can no longer call myself a Christian. I don't want to, don't need to, and don't have to. My name is simply Barry Adamson: a man of the slightly insane type with tattoos, an opinion, and an occasional short temper. I am a human being, nothing more, and the ashes I came from will one day be ashes again. I will live until my name is forgotten, and then, like all others who came before me, fade away from the existence we call time and space. I will always hold the teachings of Jesus as something to strive for, and I will always use the law of love of my guide - at least, I will try to do so - but as for the mumbo jumbo that generally comes with the religion of Jesus, that, I reject. Call me a heretic, but if I am to live this life, which is indeed mine, I don't need a book to tell me what to do. I will live in the authentic reality of me. After all, there is nothing more than this. The me in this world is all that I will ever be, it is all that we will ever be, and the us that comes from it will only come when we will be willing to cast off our differences as divisions that create the "me versus you" and "us versus them" mindset in order to embrace the fact that our differences are what makes us human and what makes us one tribe instead of many. And there it is.
So yes, if you're going to describe my walk of life as anything, call me a humanist, call me a heretic, call me anything you like, but always remember: I own this life: no book, no god in the sky, and no other man. And, to be honest, if there is a divine power, I think this is what it would want us to discover about ourselves instead of squabbling over the table scraps of a world on fire.
Hello Barry, I am very happy for you. I remember the issues from before and I am glad that you and your family are in a much stronger position now.
Most people I know will say that the world makes more sense and that life takes on greater meaning when they figure out what religion really is. To know that you are “a human being, nothing more” is a more humble stance than any religious person ever takes. You are not making any claims to have all the answers to life or to have a divinely revealed truth. You are now thinking freely. Prepared to be amazed and inspired by what you find in this one life.
"The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: We stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more." - The Portable Atheist by Christopher Hitchens.
It seems that you have arrived at a very strong position. As an atheist, I appreciate what Jesus had to say and listen to it, but I don't believe in God and don't need to in order to live my life. I do believe there may be an afterlife, despite the fact that I don't want it to exist.
Very good to see you back, Barry. I appreciate the courage, honesty and good heart that has led you to this position.
My family (wife and children) remain a constant source of encouragement and inspiration. My children say that I am a better father, and my wife is seeing a change in my behavior towards her as well - all for the better, though painful at times it can be. My mother and father, have yet to know about it, though I do think that they might be disheartened by it all, and as for my sisters, see my reply to Ed below.
I was curious if you have discussed your new "walk of life" with your family members. And what was their reaction if you have indeed shared your new found revelation?
Honestly, I would have no clue as to how my mother or father might feel - though it would most likely be a sticking point. I could care less about what my sisters might say though. As for my wife and children, they are and will be fine with it because they know that my change in this position changes nothing within our relationship. I remain a husband to my wife and father to my children, and I will abide faithfully in those roles. Just because I have changed, does not mean my love for them has changed. If anything, the only change is that my love for them has grown greater, and this alone should confess that they need not worry about my soul.
Barry good for you. Let me be a little pedantic. Would you consider yourself an old school humanist or a secular humanist.
A secular humanist believes in strict division of church and state. Using reason above all (usually scientific explanations and having a healthy sense of scepticism). Showing a general sense of compassion, tolerance and fairness for man and humanity. In addition some consider it important that a secular humanist engage in broad learning of the sciences, arts and humanities. And some believe believe in building a better progressive society.
How are your friends and family reacting to this?
Do you have a sense of fear or elation or both?
I would admit to being a blend of the two. I think both have goods to offer on a personal and public level, but I will admit that secular humanism seems far more pragmatic when it comes to operating within the public sphere of matters.
I understand then that you disagree with the strict separation of church and state?
Oh, no, no, no, no...quite the contrary! I believe heavily in the strict separation of church and state - a position I held long before my current status due to the religious discrimination I faced in my youth from attending Catholic school as a elementary aged Presbyterian. I, like many of the USA's founding fathers (be they flawed in other areas of commentary regarding the human race) find separation of church and state to be absolutely crucial to any form of well-functioning, freely elected, republic or democracy. Without separation, we face a tyranny much like that of the Taliban, ISIS, or even that of the Holy Roman Empire.
Okay. I think in that case I probably misrepresented secular humanism by placing their principles in an order which makes it seem as though all the principles have to do with the public sphere (which isn't the case). Maybe I should put it this way:
Using reason to the best of ones ability
Showing compassion, understanding and respect for individuals and mankind
Engaging with or learning about diverse interests in the arts, humanities and sciences
A strict separation of church and state
(and for some): Working for a progressive society
Then I suppose you would be correct.