Over at Democraticunderground someone told me that I was reflexively against religion due to a bad experience in my life.  He also said that I had a 2nd grade understanding of Christianity and discounted the good religion did.  He said he would not try to change someones faith.

Here is my response which I am posting here in case it gets deleted there.  I put a bit of work into it and don't want it to be lost.


My views are based on my evaluation of the evidence.  This isn't about me or my experience, it's about the facts.  Your charge of being reflexive or biased is an attempt to change the subject.

My own personal religious experience in the past was positive.  I genuinely liked my liberal church, the rector there and the other parishioners.  The church paid part of my tuition.  I genuinely enjoyed the singing and ceremony and thought it would be great to have a December wedding with O, Come All Ye Faithful as the wedding march.  The only negative experience I had related to my mother's husband's dealings with A.A.  Even so, like most liberal Christians, I presumed to assume that his Christianity was the wrong kind.  The only real worry it caused me was the fear that I might have offended the Holy Ghost in some way by thought word or deed and that I would go to hell with no chance of redemption, because that's what Jesus said in the New Testament.  

Ultimately, I had to stop going to church because it became uncomfortable when I realized that there is no god.  Of course none of this is relevant to the veracity of my claims.  Whether I found religion lovely and uplifting or whether I was raped by a priest (I wasn't) has no bearing on the merits of religion.  You see, I was always aware that there is a fundamental conflict between scientific fact and religious dogma.  I became aware that everything we knew about the universe was explained by purely naturalistic processes.  The final nail in the coffin was when I really understood how evolution works.  

Natural genetic mutation is, by definition, random.  This has been verified in laboratory experiments.  Nothing that is random is directed by divine or any other control.  The selection process for these changes is, to put it bluntly, is that the environment kills them off unless they are among a tiny minority of mutations that actually improves odds of survival.  (Seems pretty wasteful for a divine creator.)  It is solely environmental conditions that determine what lives and what goes on the trash heap of prehistory.  This process could not work as observed if there were ANY purposeful control behind it.  Any we know that the start of life was simply a matter of odds.  With chemical reactions occurring everywhere on the hot, young Earth, it was inevitable that self-replicating molecules would happen by chance.  Once they did, natural selection took over.  To put all this in a nutshell, since god has no part in the creation or direction of life, he cannot be a god in any common sense of that word.

And once I realized that, a whole lot of other assumptions were suddenly untenable and I discover more as time goes on.  I am not evangelizing for atheism.  This is a religion and theology discussion forum and I am merely discussing the subject with those who are interested.  I have no special duty to shut up or to lie just because others don't like my conclusions.  I absolutely reject the groundless claim that there is something immoral about challenging ideas about religion.  Every other kind of idea is open for reasonable criticism.  For some reason we pretend religion is off limits.  Well, I take that as an admission that religious ideas are indefensible in the rhetorical meaning of that word.  Besides, there are compelling practical reasons to promote secularism at the expense of religion.  Those examples are too numerous and obvious to need repeating here.

Ultimately, I care about the truth.  Not my truth or your truth or some commentator's truth, but the objective, verifiable facts.  The idea that religion might be good for something is not even an argument for, let alone proof of, the truth of its foundational beliefs.  The idea that we should spread lies or remain silent when they are told because it might do some marginal good is contemptible and unworthy of a free society.  A thousand hands in prayer do less good than one pair working.  

As far as what kind of Christianity ought to be considered in these discussions, I submit that you have no better reason for believing in the liberal version than the Fundies do for theirs.  Indeed they seem the more devote for taking their beliefs at face value.  By the way, nice slam on Catholics.  A majority of them vote D. you know.  

Ultimately, the basic premise of all surviving varieties of Christianity is this the following.  Humans are sinful and require salvation to be saved from sin, despite the fact that god made us this way.  God saw this and became a person in the form of the son of god.  That person healed a very few sick people, performed a few local miracles and gave some rather vague and morally dubious instructions to those in earshot.  He then offered himself as a kind of blood sacrifice to repay humanity's sinfulness.  After murdering the son of god, people somehow became less guilty rather than more guilty.  A day and a half later he came back to life (which somewhat negates the sacrifice) and will someday decide who gets into heaven.  In some versions, the Jews are blamed for his preplanned death.  

This is not window dressing here, but the fundamental, bedrock premise of Christianity.  If you don't believe this, I submit you are not a Christian.  And it is this that I find objectionable.  By allowing JC's suffering to be the cure for humanity's "sinfulness" Christianity makes a virtue out of suffering and especially the suffering of others.  This is the root of so much suffering and pain in our world that it is difficult to overestimate the damage it has caused.  It produces a culture where people are expected to suffer and to do so willingly.

So, it is not a reflexive response based on a bad experience or whatever.  I came to this point after decades of reflection and examination.  Indeed, before I could even start that examination, I had to get away from the fear that even asking these questions would anger god.  Once I did, the whole facade was gone.  And I respectfully submit that the fact that you cannot believe that anyone would knowing turn his back on your point of view commits the sin of pride and reveals the limits of your apprehension.

I am not anti-Christian (noun) or anti-Jew, anti-Hindu (noun) or anti-Muslim.  Obviously, I would have no friends if I were.  I am, however, against those schools of thought just as they are all against each other.  (Face it, either JC is the savior of the world or he isn't.  You can't all be right.)  And I feel I have a duty to the truth to be truthful when asked, as the OP and subsequent posters here have done.

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A good response, Brutus. You might also want to point out that while the evil religion does not negate the good, neither does the good allow people to ignore the evil.
Great post, lots of EXCELLENT points made there. :D I wish you'd link to whatever this "Democraticunderground" place is though so that maybe we could find the original post you were responding to... comments like, "By the way, nice slam on Catholics. A majority of them vote D. you know," makes me curious as to what was originally said LOL!
Good post, your experience mirrors mine in many ways. I was an Episcopalian and although generally liberal, the schism over ordination of homosexuals and the split into American Anglicans left me wondering what anyone could ever hope to resolve by reading bronze age texts.

I too was forced to carefully study evolution when an adult Sunday school teacher went off on argument from design attack on evolution. Before this I had assumed that evolution was categorically accepted by all moderate christians. Again, no way to divine the truth from ancient texts. The fact that god wasn't making humans with evolution forces the existentialist good faith choice.

And those goddamn darwin fish stopped pissing me off.
I was an Episcopalian too. That was in the 1980s. Even then the homosexuality question was causing divisions.

I always knew that evolution was real. Some guy named Carl Sagan explained it to me in his TV show Cosmos in 1980. I thought that on some level gawd was still behind it all. Over time the the obvious worldly nature of Christianity's history caused increasing skepticism. The final blow for any possibility of divinity for me was reading Dawkin's explanation of evolution. It explained that not only is god unnecessary for evolution, his direction would actually prevent it from working. God went from being an unlikely and unprovable concept to an absolute impossibility.
Here's the thread. At DU, I post under the name "Deep13," a reference to the 1990s cable TV show, Mystery Science Theater 3000.

As you can see, I retracted my "nice slam on Catholics remark."
What? "Here's the thread" but then you give no link.. lol.
I must say, "A thousand hands in prayer do less good than one pair working," is pure brilliance! I enjoyed this post as with the many responses on DU.
I agree, I loved that statement, it's so true, and gives a real positive reason for atheism, even if no one around you will agree, because you will be more likely to be that one pair working and helping the world if you don't believe in God/praying.
Read the bible from beginning to end. If this were to be the truth then it should be banned for all its hatred and wickedness, as all religious books are a fiction, some of course will contain some truth, but come on now picking up sticks on a Sunday is evil and punishable. No need to make so many points, although I think you have done this equistely
One thing you say is you are not anti-= all religions and non religions are irrelevent only love and helping to stop one living human- being to be wanting for food and a loving family, then we will not want all these stories with no back up.
Not quite sure what you mean by that last sentence. I'm not against any person because of subjective beliefs. I am, however, against the beliefs themselves because they cause otherwise reasonable and well-meaning people to do horrible things. And because they are lies.


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