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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Wonderful response! There are a lot of religious people on DU who do not like it when you criticize religion. But for me, why would I be an atheist if I agreed with religion/faith/the supernatural? I reject it and think that belief in the supernatural is silly at least and dangerous at worst.
I can dig it
people throw this in my face all the time and are surprised when I tell them that I had a good experience in the church.
This essay is golden. It made my day. Stick it to the creationists!
Great response!!! :-)
Excellent post! A lot of good points were presented there. I too have had good points deleted by religious moderators (in another forum I attended).
though that may have a little rooting in the truth, that certainly is not the only reason is it?
What do you mean. If conclusive evidence of the nonexistence of god isn't enough, what is?
"before I could even start that examination, I had to get away from the fear that even asking these questions would anger god"

That was my first issue. And it is for many believers. It is just sickening how guilt and fear are used to control people. Its very hard to come away from 'God will smite me if i disagree with him' yet i kept saying in my head, this all doesn't add up, this all doesn't make sense.

Even if we were sinners, didn't god create the sin? Why did he have to send his son to be sacrificed to save us? Couldn't we just have been saved without all that tralala? Afterall it was his call! All those questions I used to ask...

I'm glad that you posted your response. Even if many believers continue to put you down remember that the truth is getting through to some of them. I was once like them. Through the first atheist I met, a former teacher of mine, I really began to ask questions and put the logical facts together. Just as I'm happy that I met him, some believer out there will be happy to have read your post.

Great response!
Thanks. That's a very generous thing to say.
'God will smite me if i disagree with him'

Of course, this is just a momentary laspe in judgement form an all powerful, all knowing benign being who just wants to be your best friend and who loves you for who you are. Xians dont even know how flawed their own statements are.
I find it amazing how people can overlook the obvious. Religion is like a house of cards; remove anyone and the rest will come tumbling after.


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