This will be my first blog on thinkatheist... and I'm not really sure what I want to write about, only that I want to write. I'm sitting in the office of one of my best friend's father and am thinking about the past year of my life (as it is the last day OF this year).
The year began in Pueblo, Colorado. I had moved away from Nashville the previous year (the end of May 2007) and was at the early stages of my transition from Christianity to Agnosticism/Atheism. Like Sam Harris, I really don't like classifying myself at all, but it helps convey non-belief in less than a sentence. Actually, those are the two labels I would refrain from giving myself if I were admitting my current state of mind to a Christian.
In any case, detoxing from Christianity has been a scary, emotionally-draining and incredible experience. It all began with a book by a man named Rob Bell (Velvet Elvis) and his liberal views about Jesus/God. He said that Christianity was more like a trampoline than a brick wall where, if your removed a couple bricks, the whole thing would come crumbling down. As it turns out, Christianity IS "Brickianity", in that it does crumble once you extricate certain core beliefs. As much as the author of the above mentioned book would like to believe Christianity is flexible (even fun), it most certainly is not. A good verse to cite would be Revelation 3:16, where is says "So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth."
Rob Bell started out by demystifying Hell. Apparently, the word for "Hell" in Hebrew is Gehenna, which is actually a town dump in Jerusalem in the Valley of Hinnom (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gehenna). Essentially, Jesus was using this actual physical location as a visual reference... not a literal threat of eternal damnation. Can I tell you what I relief this was for me? It's not that I necessarily had a fear of Hell, but more that I really wondered about a "good" God who could send anyone, guilty or not, into a place like that. Besides, most people on the path to darkness were pretty chill people who didn't do really anything worthy of such an extreme punishment. I suppose that's why Dante's Inferno depicts Hell as having layers which were targeted to different levels of sin. Whatever the case, Hell had been dismissed in my mind.
Bell continued to list the cultural and interpretational discrepancies between Judaism and Christianity, which really did nothing to improve my faith but caused me to distrust myself to read the Bible at all. When there were such glaring differences just in the way we think (for example, extending your left hand in the middle-east is considered a great insult while here it's only a friendly greeting), the Bible became useless to me as a reference for behavior PERIOD. And, even though I didn't think of it at the time, God is supposed to be transcendent... so, things like culture and interpretational errors should be overcome easily, as He should be able to communicate with people from all walks of life). He's TIMELESS, right? Apparently not.
Then, my landlord (who also happens to be a Christian apologist) told me that the events in Revelations had already occurred in 70 A.D., I really had to start looking into my alleged faith and find out just what it was I was claiming to believe. He successfully turned my world upside down, which forced me to dig deeper... and dig deeper I did!
I decided my next move should be to go to the Jews and see why it was that they rejected Jesus (www.jewsforjudaism.com). They had a very simple, very straightforward argument. There were very clear guidelines that their Messiah had to meet in order to be considered THE Messiah. Turns out, Jesus really doesn't meet any of those qualifications... except if you twist words to fit a certain agenda. I expected the Jews' argument to be the equivalent of a three year old sticking their fingers in their ears and singing "la la la" really loudly. These people really didn't have the luxury of misinterpreting their texts; if they got it wrong and ended up worshipping a false prophet, they were damned... literally. So maybe I should become a Jew?? Uhhh... no. I should keep searching.
I've read Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris, and The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, and I'm working on End of Faith by Sam Harris right now. I've also read Neitzche and science magazines (Wired) and MANY other works... not to mention several blogs on myspace (which include a link to the movie Religulous and Zeitgeist). Christianity has been completely debunked in my mind and there's no turning back. Organized religion is a tool used to control the masses and I really want nothing to do with it. My problem is that my family and most of my friends are Christian, so I have to tread lightly. Treading lightly is not actually what is needed, but... discarding religion from our society won't be possible without patience and learning how to best approach a subject with someone who is highly defensive and deeply entrenched.
Now, as I'm about to enter the New Year, I'm scheming all the ways I can make my life more closely resemble what I feel it SHOULD look like. I have ideas for jarring people into thinking about their religion and possibly becoming more open to seeing it for what it is. Even though it's a terrifying transition, it is necessary. Our country will eventually implode if we don't get rid of this virus. Although religion can be said to have done some good, much more horrific acts have come about as a result of someone pledging their allegiance to an imaginary friend.
I really hope this Web site will be a great networking tool for me. This is probably where I'll launch my t-shirt line from, so I hope when I feel the time is right, my friends on thinkatheist will support me. I'll definitely do the same for them.
Thanks for being out there...