I agree with you whole-heartedly on most of your points. Something I find great distaste for is how Christians are some of the most intolerant, ignorant, and flat out belligerent people I know. I could not even begin to fathom the thoughts that must go through their heads, as they would most certainly be of the most abhorrent and offending nature. During the First Crusade during the sack of Jerusalem crusaders boarded up 900 Jewish women and children in a synagogue and then set fire to the place while marching around singing “Christ We Adore Thee”. I obviously don’t have to point out the blatant hypocrisy. A personal experience I have in my church is how people tend to take the opportunity to bolster their own self-esteem by belittling your faith. Now, I think that religion should bolster your own self-esteem, but at the expense of others? If I don’t show up dressed exactly the correct way, at the correct time, and if I don’t conduct myself in a manner wholly similar to their own, they are automatically better Christians than I. To say that people use religion for their own ends in an enormous understatement, and I would be ignorant to try and argue that point. As a practicing Christian, I do find myself engaging in such behavior from time to time. I try at every point to recognize this, and correct it. I hold a fundamental belief that no human is perfect, Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Atheist, etc. To say I am better than them is wrong and would only be a way for me to hold myself above them, rather I struggle in all my actions to conduct myself in a manner that any reasonable person would consider “morally correct.”
Now though I am a practicing Christian, I did not ask the question to prompt debate or elicit argument. Only the free exchange of thought and the opportunity to be exposed to diversity of opinion. Since you asked, I will answer your question. Christianity to me is about God. It isn’t about my pastor, a priest, a prophet, or my neighbors. My religion is about God, and living the way the Bible tells me too. It means loving the person who sits next to me at Church and judges me, it means to not hate those who use my God for money, but rather to pity them, it means to accept those who only want the admiration of the community, and to hope they see the error of their ways, it means to be honest with untalented musicians, and try to give them advice to improve without being harsh or overly critical, it means to not attach meaning to social status on the premise of religion and to believe that we are all created equally, it means to stand up and speak out against those who want too use my God to gain political power for their own benefits, it means accepting ideas that are contrary to my own, and to respect them if I disagree, and to learn from them if they are right, and it means to be tolerant towards all men and women, regardless of how they act, what they believe, whom they love, and what they do.
You know, that was the way I felt about it when I still believed it all. The problem, for me, is that those values are not taught in the bible at all. You can hunt and peck at different verses that support a decent set of modern values, but you have to ignore a lot of material to do so.
The biggest problem I found was that being a decent person was not the criteria required for earning the reward of an eternal life in heaven. The words of Jesus himself declare that you must discard concern for tomorrow, abandon any love of mother, father, brother or sister, and focus on nothing other than a human sacrifice that was made for you, before you were born, against your will, AND accept all of that as a debt that you owe to the monster of the old testament for your eternal salvation.
In order to accept that, I feel that I would have to be a morally corrupt person. I would have to disregard responsibility for my own actions and love the sacrifice of another human being in my place -> not just believe it, but love it, and revel in it.
Even if I could get over the moral reservations I have with that concept, I would need some evidence that any of these things were true. I would need a book that wasn't riddled with contradictions, inaccurate descriptions of nature and physics, and which presented, at the very least, some eyewitness testimony from someone who could be identified. Even with that, I would need to witness phenomenon in the world around me that would suggest a supernatural power was guiding other believers to some transcendental truth rather than requiring intellectual dishonesty on the part of the entire flock.
Well your problems with atheism seem to lie in the theological aspect of Christianity. I do not want a debate, and I would never try to undermine your beliefs. I only wish to say what I believe in, and what I believe that the Bible tells us, if that is with your permission to discuss such theology.
You should first know that I've read the bible straight through, twice, and that I sometimes reread various books within it from time to time. I've already pointed out that you can hunt and peck for a decent set of modern values -> but that you would need to disregard most of it to do so. If you want to offer some verses, expect 2 contradicting verses in return for each.
Before we go down that road, however, you should really provide a justification for using the Bible rather than the Koran or the Vedas. You see, had you been born in another country, those books would be the ones that you believed were divinely inspired. Why don't you start by telling me how you came to the conclusion that the Koran and the Vedas were incorrect? Why don't you tell me why you don't believe in Allah and his prophets Jesus and Mohammed?
I became an atheist the second I realized no self-respecting loving god would create this hell hole called earth. Okay, maybe it is not a hell hole for some people, but for many it is.
Before then, I tried hard to hang on to my faith. It took a lot of mental energy to constantly deny the contradictions of such a god existing. Eventually I wore down to the point I no longer had the strength go keep fighting the obvious.
So, if I understand this correctly, believe that the nature of God conflicts with reality?
Yes. Especially the contradiction that people hold the idea of a good god allowing evil. A good parent will protect their child from harm, not send them in the way of it. That's what your concept of God does - he creates beings and sends them to earth which is a terrible place for lots of them for lots of reasons.
You believe that your God is good, yet he allows infants to be raped and killed by adults, for one example. I can no longer reconcile these two ideas.
So do you believe that what you have said is the full extent of my belief?
Yes, and please, by all means, correct me if I am wrong.
This may be one of the few instances I shall say this, but you are decidedly wrong. My beliefs are much more in-depth than that. So rather than give you the same information you have undoubtedly heard before, allow me to ask you a question and learn from your beliefs.
Do you believe, based purely on your hypothetical previous concept of the Christian God, that because he allows humans to suffer, he cannot be all-loving?
Yes, but for clarification, when I say suffering, I mean intense suffering and not just for humans, but for all creatures.