Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What's this blog about?

First off let me start off by stating exactly why I started this blog and what this blog is really about. I started this blog with the intention of it being a place where I could share my views and experiences about Christianity. I consider myself upon hindsight reflection that I was indeed one of the most extreme fundamentalist out there. I was a charismatic evangelist in a charismatic church; namely, Pentecostalism. I was a member of a Hispanic church which I believe was even more extreme than its American counterpart.

I held a literalistic interpretation of the bible and believed that it was in fact the inerrant word of God. During that time in my life if I encountered someone who refuted this, then I would let them know that there was nothing wrong with the bible, it was in fact their interpretation of what they read that was wrong. Basing myself on John 14:26 I believed that no one could even begin to understand the bible unless they were spiritually enlightened by the Holy Spirit. I believed that if I did find something that I thought "seemed" contradictory then it was because God at that moment decided not to reveal its true meaning to me. So I did what any other true fanatic would do...I prayed.

Prayer was a very important part of my life and it was crucial to my spiritual growth. I remember several occasions where I would be a part of an overnight retreat in church and I would literally pray all night long for up to eight hours straight! Prayer to me meant talking with the Lord and so I did this during most of my waking hours of the day. I walked down the street "talking" to God in my head and thanking him for how nice the day was or how well last nights service went etc. If I had enough time before an invitation to preach at another church I would go on three day fasts where I did nothing but drink water, immerse myself in the scriptures, and pray.

I literally felt back then what I believed to be God's presence all around me all the time. I would get goose bumps and feel all sorts of electrical sensations coursing through my body. I swear to this day that I heard God reply in my own voice in my head or as a low whisper in my ear. I had dreams that sometimes would last several nights at a time. I was the possessor of all of the gifts of the Spirit as outlined in 1 Corinthians chapter twelve.

In those days I believed I saw the confirmation of these gifts in my ministry when I would lay hands on someone in prayer and watch them pass out at the slightest touch, sometimes I just pointed at them from a distance and they fell! People would later tell me how they were healed of this or that malady to which I had been unaware of or how their private prayer requests had been answered.

Why am I telling you all these things? Because my recovery from this type of religious extremism was very hard for me. It took me six years to break free from the shackles of religion during a time when the resources of knowledge for people like me were scarce. To all those backsliders out there or believers who are in between doubting and believing just know that I am here. I have been in the deep end of the pool and almost drowned; but if I can make it out I know that you can too.

This blog was not started to debate theists about the existence or non-existence of their beliefs, not to yammer on about philosophy and impossible probabilities. I don't need convincing about those matters I "believe" to my own satisfaction that there is no God. That those beliefs are all man made and so I am not here to debate that with anyone. I am not here to fight about morality, sin, heaven, hell, etc.I am here to do my part by educating others through my experiences and the sharing of those experiences. I am here to help you get out if you so desire, not to try and convince you that God is not real. That is a decision that you must come to on your own.

One thing you can count on for certain is that every atheist or agnostic has his/her own story to tell. They like myself have all taken different paths and have come to similar conclusions in the end. Atheism was not a position that I came upon lightly and as I have stated it did not happen overnight for me either. I had to suffer through a lot of internal conflicts with my beliefs themselves and how I viewed the real world around me. My path to freedom was long and arduous but if I had to do it again I would. There is no greater feeling than to be able to think freely to express yourself without fear.

The book of John says: And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 8:32 (NJB) I agree with this verse entirely but not in the context in which it is presented in the scriptures. The truth I am referring to is that you don't have to live in fear bound to ancient beliefs and superstitions. You don't have to fear offending an imaginary deity in thought, deed or actions. You can see life from the other side of the prison cell bars and enjoy it for what it is. Life is short for some of us and a little longer for others, my point is that you should live it to the fullest doing what you enjoy.

You don't need God to be a moral person; come to think of it God in the Old Testament demonstrated just how moral and just he is at least in the imaginary realm of the believers of the bible. This blog is for everyone who is tired of the mental oppression of religion and wants a way out. If you need to chat with me about something you think is too personal that I could help you with just let me know I would make arrangements to discuss those matters with you privately. Thanks for all those that support this blog and what I am doing and I hope that you keep coming back so I can keep writing. Who knows maybe there is something in all of this blogs posts that may be able to help you with some of your own personal struggles.

Religion and tradition

Generally, in my family religious beliefs vary and are more of a tradition than an actual commitment to those beliefs by the individuals who claim them. My trusty Sage dictionary defines tradition as: 1. A specific practice of long standing 2. An inherited pattern of thought or action. For the purpose of this post I'd like the reader to focus more on the second definition that is given since that one pretty much defines what I am about to describe.

To my knowledge as far as I know I am the only openly atheist member of my entire family, this includes distant relatives as well. It's not really a shocker because I have always been the odd man out, I have always been an independent thinker and not one of the herd. Even as a Christian I was studious and very inquisitive. I longed to know everything I could about God and his plan for mankind, and I relished nothing more than to be able one day to solve some of the so called mysteries of the bible. My ministry at the time was what is known as a deliverance ministry, and as an evangelist I actually had read and owned over 60 titles on the subject of demonology!

I didn't become a Christian out of my own volition till i was about 14 years of age. Although as I child I was in foster care and baptized a Catholic and went to Catholic school, somehow that particular religion never appealed to me. I found all of the rituals quite boring and Sunday mass was an absolute snooze fest for me. When I came to live with my mom again at age 10, she drilled into my head that the one true religion was the Pentecostal church. Although my mother was not a practicing Christian this was her conviction and she managed to pass it down to me over the years.

My mother told me many stories about her experiences with God and the supernatural and these stories at the time made me want to have similar experiences for myself. It wasn't till a couple of years later that I found out that my mom was schizophrenic and that her experiences were directly linked to her personal convictions and her disorder. She was and still is to this day what I refer to as a miracle monger. This explains her attraction to Pentecostalism. She rarely went to church services and officially was not a member of any congregation, she pretty much lived life as if God's laws did not exist while acknowledging that he did.

That's pretty much the story of my entire family. They all claim a belief in God and consider the bible to be his revelation to mankind and entirely inerrant and divinely inspired, although they have never read it nor even know what is contained within its covers. I am the only thinker in my entire family; so I guess that I would not be wrong to state that when it comes to them I am surrounded by idiots!

Not a single person in my family came to believe in God through reading and studying the bible, this includes myself. A belief in God was a given in my family we believed because that is what we were taught to believe. The same way we were taught by our parents that Santa was the one responsible for all of those presents under the tree. We didn't question or critically analyze the information, we believed it because everyone else did. We basically were following the family "tradition."

I seem to have been the only one who later on after being a full on Pentecostal fanatic for four years, decided to analyze and question some of the things I believed that I found to be inconsistent with what I read in the bible or experienced in my ministry. To this day members of my family attribute any an all misfortune I encounter in my personal life to my rejection of a belief in God. And I continue to call them hypocrites and idiots for believing in ancient fairy tales.

My whole point in this post is that tradition is a very powerful thing and can if not examined lead us into believing some very weird things. I always say that religion is a cultural, societal, and ethnic phenomenon and that all these things are nothing more than one great big tradition. Who knows how many people here in the U.S. are practicing Christians and take their beliefs seriously. But I am willing to bet that most of them don't because religion was not a conviction that they came to on their own; they were taught it.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The absurdity of faith based on revelation

One of my favorite books of all time and earliest reads as I began straying from the "path of righteousness" to that of atheism, is Thomas Paine's magnificent analysis of religion: 'The age of reason.'  When I first read this book I was blown away at the direct frontal assault that Paine employed against organized religion although Paine himself was not an atheist but rather a deist. It's been many years since I read this book but one quote stuck to me like glue and I have never been able to get it out of my mind when discussing matters of religion.

"But admitting, for the sake of a case,
that something has been revealed to a certain person, and not
revealed to any other person, it is revelation to that person only.
When he tells it to a second person, a second to a third, a third to
a fourth, and so on, it ceases to be a revelation to all those
persons. It is revelation to the first person only, and hearsay to
every other, and, consequently, they are not obliged to believe it."

This quote brings us to the topic of this post. The first thing we must ask is who wrote the bible? Depending on who you ask you may get a variety of answers ranging from men, men inspired by God, or even men who God has chosen to reveal himself to in order to spread the word to the rest of mankind. The next question is who were these men? For the most part regardless of the names attached to the various works included in the bible, its authors are generally unknown.

One of the many reasons why the bible is self contradictory is because it has so many authors and those authors all claimed to have a different revelation from God. The next problem you face is the matter of exegesis. This is clearly demonstrated by simply asking two people to read the exact same verses from scripture and give you their idea of what they think those verses meant. This is also evident in the thousands of religions that call themselves  Christian, they are all reading the same book but claiming for themselves very different meanings.

Every church under the banner of Christianity was started because someone in the church did not agree with some of its teachings and decided either on his own or on some claimed revelation that the doctrines as taught needed clarification. Another aspect that is common among religions is that they tend to borrow from each other and those of their surrounding cultures.

Christianity for instance borrows heavily from Judaism and even has some elements of earlier myths believed by the Romans such as the cult of Sol Invictus. I like to call Christianity Judaism light, because it accepts some of the tenets of Judaism and rejects those that are not palatable to a gentile audience. One of the most prevalent was the early churches feud over whether the gentiles should be circumcised as evidenced in Romans chapter two.

Now going back to what Paine said in the above quote, outside of so called divine revelation what evidence do believers have that the bible is true? None! The various disciplines of science and history have proven the bible to be both inaccurate and in most cases untrue. The fact that the bible is based on not one but many peoples so called revelations and that these revelations are so contradictory attest to the fact that the bible is composed entirely of human invention.

In my mind there is not one thing in the bible that screams out divine revelation to me. There is no "knowledge" contained within its pages that man could not have acquired on his own with careful study and analysis. In fact, a lot of it when it pertains to science has been proven to be inaccurate and utterly incorrect!

In closing I would like to remind you that as Thomas Paine stated and I am paraphrasing; " a revelation is only a revelation to the one who claims to receive it, to the rest of us it's just hearsay." The entire bible is based literally on hearsay and the so called revelation aspect of it is irrelevant when it is challenged with facts to the contrary. Arguing from faith based on some unknown authors self proclaimed revelation who are removed from us a little over  six thousand years is absurd. Based on this analysis it is my opinion that faith and reason are two terms that don't even belong in the same discussion.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sin is what God says it is!

It seems to me that what constitutes sin is anything that is contrary to the biblical gods laws or in some personal way offends him. But apparently nothing pisses God off more than the sin of idolatry? What is idolatry you may ask and how do I know that this makes the imaginary guy in the sky very angry? Because it is right there in black and white in the "holy bible" God's written record to man about what his likes and dislikes are and his very own false version of history.

Idolatry is basically the worshiping of other gods through the use of graven images and rituals. Some say idolatry extends to loving something more than god, like the love of money for instance. But in its most basic sense I speak of it as defined in the first sentence of this paragraph. In the book of Leviticus (law) chapter 20 the Hebrews are given the famous ten commandments and the first thing that God lets the people know is that : 3 'You shall have no other gods to rival me.4 'You shall not make yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the waters under the earth.5 'You shall not bow down to them or serve them. For I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God and I punish a parent's fault in the children, the grandchildren, and the great-grandchildren among those who hate me; Leviticus 20: 3-5 (NJB).

The commandment pretty much defines idolatry for us and it specifically prohibits the making of graven images of gods and other things. So my question is why is it that the so called "one true Christian church" (Catholicism) as they like to call themselves have so many graven images and even encourage the veneration of them? I debated an Catholic apologist on this issue once for weeks. He basically stated that they don't worship saints etc. they venerate them and pray for them to intercede on their behalf before the Lord.

Before we continue let's define the words worship and venerate in the simplest way possible. According to my Sage dictionary the word worship means: 'To love unquestioningly and uncritically or to excess;venerate as an idol.' The next word we need to look at is venerate and that is defined as follows by the same source: 'Regard with feelings of respect and reverence; consider hallowed or exalted or be in awe of.' As you can see there is not much difference between the two meanings. The Catholic church "venerates" the people that they have canonized as saints. But this so called veneration is no different from the biblical definition of idolatry because they have graven representations of these saints who they perform certain rituals for in order to approach them and gain their favor.

Now let me give you my understanding of what sin is. It is whatever the biblical God says it is and nothing more. There are many instances in the bible where God's commandments were allowed to be broken as long as they were being led by God himself. The most common one was the command to not kill, but if you took the time to read the old testament you will quickly see that the Hebrews did exactly that. With the guidance of their God and human leaders they led a campaign of conquests of the so called promised land that included massacring whole populations.

On one occasion the people were complaining to Moses about how hard it was for them walking in the desert suffering hunger and thirst when they had it all in Egypt. When God heard this he was angered and loosed a plague of serpents in the camp that began biting and killing some of God's people. When the people begged Moses to pray so that this plague could be taken away guess what happened next? After praying he received these instructions from the good Lord: 8 and Yahweh replied, 'Make a fiery serpent and raise it as a standard. Anyone who is bitten and looks at it will survive.'9 Moses then made a serpent out of bronze and raised it as a standard, and anyone who was bitten by a serpent and looked at the bronze serpent survived. Numbers 21: 8,8 (NJB).

God basically told them to commit idolatry by making an image of a serpent out of brass so that those that looked upon it could be saved. Why couldn't he have just had them all perform some ritual or sin sacrifice instead? Because no sin is a sin unless God says so. After the plague had passed what do you think happened to that brass serpent? According to the scriptures King Hezekiah had it destroyed because apparently the Hebrews were worshiping it. 4 He abolished the high places, broke the pillars, cut down the sacred poles and smashed the bronze serpent which Moses had made; for up to that time the Israelites had offered sacrifices to it; it was called Nehushtan. 2 Kings 21: 4 (NJB).

In closing I've always said that the bibles many contradictions don't present God in the best light. He is seen as flawed, self-contradictory and a far cry from omniscient (all knowing). I believe that the reason that the biblical god appears so human is because he is a human creation.  Just like all the other gods before and after him he was just another product of the very creative imagination of a people. He is a myth and a superstition that even hangs around today because people refuse to acknowledge these facts and recognize what he is and where he came from.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Incest as a means of populating the earth?

One of the things I find most disturbing about the literal interpretation of the creation stories (there are two) as told in Genesis is that mankind supposedly are all descendants of the first couple Adam and Eve. 28 'God blessed them, saying to them, 'Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. Be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven and all the living creatures that move on earth.' Genesis 1:28 (NJB).

In the chapters that follow it goes on relating how they had children and this one begat that one etc. But if we are to believe that this actually happened we would have to believe that at least one or both of those first sons was having sexual relations with mom, since she was the only woman on the planet. This would imply that incest was the means for mankind to multiply his numbers upon the earth. Not only would this be a crazy means of multiplication but it would also be impractical. It states in the earlier verses of chapter one that he created all of the animals and their species at once. Why did he not do the same for man?

It would have been more prudent and practical to create man and all of the races and spread them out all over the world in small populations or groups. Instead if we were to take the narrative of Genesis as literal we are lead to believe that Adam and Eve somehow populated the early earth. But this raises another problem because when Cain was cursed by God to wander the earth he was able to find a wife in another land who obviously was not his sister, indicating that the creation story was not true as it was presented in the scriptures.

1 God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, 'Breed, multiply and fill the earth. 7 Be fruitful then and multiply, teem over the earth and subdue it!' Genesis 6:1,7 (NJB). As you can see when God destroyed all of mankind he spared Noah and his three sons and their wives which would bring the total of people on the ark to eight. God then left it up to these eight people to replenish the earth. It boggles my mind that anyone would take this garbage as truth seeing how many holes are in this story.

Once again if these eight people did replenish the earth it had to be through the use of incest and inbreeding. I found an interesting article of some of the problems associated with inbreeding which also in my view helps to throw a monkey wrench in the whole creation story as told in Genesis. For those of you that are interested you can find it here. Inbreeding is known to sometimes cause birth defects and a higher mortality rate.

In closing this little article all I can say with a certainty is that the so called "creation" of man did not happen anything like the bible describes nor did the various races come from the incident at the tower of Babel. These stories sound highly unlikely simply because they are not historical facts nor are they written as such. They are derive from folklore and myth and their many fantastical elements puts them solidly in this category. Now if you are a non-literal believer then you have to deal with the issue of finding an alternative story to explain our existence. In my opinion the theory of evolution by way of natural selection does this just fine. There might be some missing pieces to the puzzle but the scientific theory is certainly more credible and has plenty of supporting evidence to corroborate its findings.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Stop thinking like a child!

11 When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and see things as a child does, and think like a child; but now that I have become an adult, I have finished with all childish ways.
1 Corinthians 13:11 (NJB)

Of all of the verses in the bible, this is my absolute favorite, although I prefer the wording of the KJV of the bible over this one. The reason I love this text so much is because as it's worded it expresses one of my views regarding all religious beliefs including christianity.

Before all of you deluded theists start screaming about my quoting this scripture out of context or my not fully understanding its intended meaning, I want you all to know that in this particular instance this is intentional. I know exactly what Paul meant in this particular instance, but the words speak to me now as an atheist in a very different way.

Let me explain, one of the things that bothered me the most about being a christian and then realizing later that it was just another false belief was the sense of embarassment I felt for having fallen for such a lie in the first place. I was an angry atheist shortly after leaving the faith and renouncing my beliefs as utter ridiculous nonsense. As a theist I sacrificed a lot of things and put in a lot of time and effort to let the world know that Jesus was our Lord (another word for master) and saviour.

I preached on Saturdays and Sundays on different street corners, I visited hospitals and homes and prayed for the sick etc. I fasted and prayed often and fervently and tried to live my life to the fullest for Jesus. You see, in those days it was not my will be done but rather his will be done. I had a deliverance ministry for four years where I dealt often with the so called demon possessed, and often people testified that they were healed under my ministry. My entire life was dedicated to God's work or what I thought in my deluded mind what God's work was supposed to be.

I spoke in tongues, prophesied, I believed I had the gift of discerning of spirits etc. But when I began to have my first doubts about my beliefs, I began to feel a sense of betrayal. I literally felt like that kid who has been trying his best to behave all year long only to be told by his parents that the reason he wasn't geting any prestents that year was because they had no money and Santa did not really exist!

After having read the bible in its entirety for the first time, I had a lot of questions for God and my pastor. The bible had no answers that I found satisfactory enough to justify for instance the many atrocities contained in the bible perpetrated by God against man. Why do bad things happen to good people? How could he claim to love us and at the same time destroy us and threaten us with eternal torment as a punishment for not accepting to live up to his standards or even believing in his existence?

I was literally ashamed that I had fallen for somthing so silly and juvenile as a belief in an invisible guy in the sky and the imaginary legends and fairy tales of the Hebrews. Nothing stings more than getting bitch slapped in the face by reality and the sudden realization that everything you believed was false.

To this day I hate christian apologetics not because it poses a challenging defense of christianity, but because it is nothing more than making excuses for a God whose existence isn't even proven and whose attributes cannot be known. I always get a good chuckle when theists state that God and his ways are ineffable, because if he is unknowable and defies description then my conclusion would be that he does not exist. How can a theist claim to know God and at the same time and in the same sentence tell us unbelieving heathens that he is unknowable?

All religious beliefs are the product of the society and culure in which you were reared. In short they are childish beliefs that man should have put away a long long time ago. But unfortunately mankind as a whole has not grown up. They still cling to silly superstitions and mythical beliefs with no other foundation than faith. But for the inquisitive lover of knowledge such as myself, faith is not enough. Hopefully in the not too distant future man will eventually outgrow religion, but I won't count on it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

All religions are false

I must admit I have been accused of being overly simplistic regarding my views on religion and religious beliefs. But I can't help it if I find that the use of archaeology, history, the sciences etc. is a little bit much to disprove what in my view pretty much disproves itself. I find that applying all of these fields of study to the bible is giving it a place that it does in of itself not deserve.

It is my view as the title of my blog states that the biblical God and in fact all gods are the creations of men and therefore are nothing more than myths. My Sage dictionary defines a myth as: 'A traditional story accepted as history; serves to explain the worldview of a people.' In the same vein the word folklore is defined as: 'The unwritten lore (stories and proverbs and riddles and songs) of a culture.'

The bible has been shown to be inconsistent with several disciplines of science, history, and many of its cast of characters have been shown to be nonexistent and invented. Based on these various evidences I have concluded that 1. man created the gods 2. stories were created to help explain what in those days were not understood 3. these stories are not based on facts and therefore they are classified as folklore and myths 4. since man created the gods that means that the biblical God is no exception and therefore God himself is a myth!

As you can see there is no need for ridiculous philosophical discussions on the attributes of God, or trying to fight faith with objective evidence to the contrary. In my view its a waste of time learning Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek in order to learn the scriptures in their original languages, because in the end layman or scholar we all end up with the same conclusions if we are true to ourselves and follow the evidence to where it may lead us.

It is my personal experience and opinion that no one who reads the bible in its entirety no matter what language you read it in cannot help but come to the conclusion that its just not the word of God nor is it divinely inspired. I am also of the opinion that philosophy is an inappropriate means of analyzing religion because in all truth it makes the simple quite complicated.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bad news for all Christian cherry pickers!

20 I repeat, you will be able to tell them by their fruits. 21 'It is not anyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," who will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven.                        Matthew 7:20,21 (NJB)

Although the bible teaches that man is saved by faith and not works so that he may not boast, works are also a requirement. There are many people walking around today claiming to be a christian of one sort or another, but most of them don't know what it really means to bear that title. To be a christian is to be a follower of Christ. The Lord in the scriptures is the supreme example of how to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. Christians love to cherry pick their way through the scriptures choosing all the verses that agree with their own wants and desires, but those verses that condemn them in some way are simply ignored.

Believers like to minimize their sinful ways by making such statements as "God knows that I am not perfect and that I'm trying my best." Meanwhile they are living in sin with a man or a woman that they are not married to. They lie, cheat, and manipulate their way through life while at the same time claiming to be christian and true believers of Christ. In fact, anyone who claims that they are following the bible to the letter is a liar. The reason for this statement is that it is quite impossible to live life according to the demands of the scriptures.

One observation that I have made is that the bible suppresses the natural urges of mankind. Basically, anything that is enjoyable and good the bible calls sin. It's actually a sin to look at a woman or man and desire to have them in a sexual way! It's a sin to have sex with someone without first marrying them and committing to being their lifelong partner. It's a sin to hate someone who has wronged you or to hold a grudge. It's a sin to have an open relationship or a threesome with some friends, in fact it's a sin to have a fuck buddy lol.

If you're gay, I hate to inform you that you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven because having sex with someone of the same gender is 'an abomination to the Lord.' Yet today we have some cherry picking churches who are now not only accepting gays in their congregation but marrying them as well! Some churches even have openly gay ministers. I personally am not homophobic and have several gays in my family so I have no problems with gays. All of these prejudices are derived from the so called divinely inspired piece of mythical shit called the bible.

Basically what I am saying my cherry picking friends is that if you are going to go around running your mouth about how you are saved and calling yourself a christian, maybe its time you begin to show us instead. You can start by not judging others that have different beliefs and views as yourselves so that you may not be judged.

 18 But someone may say: So you have faith and I have good deeds? Show me this faith of yours without deeds, then! It is by my deeds that I will show you my faith.24 You see now that it is by deeds, and not only by believing, that someone is justified.    James 2:18,24 (NJB).

Finally.......  31 Treat others as you would like people to treat you. 37 Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.
Luke 6:31,37 (NJB). 

In closing if you are going to claim Christianity as your religion, at least be true to yourself and to the Word. Don't be a hypocrite like the majority of believers out there and don't just talk the talk my friend, walk the walk! God wants your full commitment and nothing less will suffice, if you want salvation you still have to work for it.

While you work on your new found commitment to your fictional god I will continue enjoying life and all that it has to offer. I will live freely and responsibly doing what everyone else is doing whether they like it or not. Working to support my family, enjoying my time with them and my friends, eating, drinking, and making merry for tomorrow we die. There is only one life! I intend to live it to the fullest. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Before we get underway in this post I would like to take the time to define two key words that need to be understood beforehand. For this I will be using the Sage dictionary and thesaurus which is a very useful freeware tool by Sequence Publishing that you can download here The first word is doctrine: 'a belief (or system of beliefs) accepted as authoritative by some group or school.' The next word is indoctrination: 'Teaching someone to accept doctrines uncritically.'

Having defined those two words in the simplest terms we can begin to discuss one of the biggest problems with religious beliefs in general and Christianity specifically. It is my opinion that when most people come to accept religious beliefs, they do so because they have been convinced that the doctrines that they have been presented are true by default. Here in the U.S. most people believe for instance that there is a God in the traditional Christian sense of the word. Former president George H.W. Bush is quoted as saying: "I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God." 

 Christianity is so entrenched in our culture that even politicians defend it as true, although in many cases it carries with it ulterior motives. Atheists have been called every name in the book and have been singled out as un-American despite the fact that many of us have honorably served our country in military conflicts and have died in the defense of not  just our freedoms but those of everyone else in the country regardless of religion, race, or creed.

What Christians in this country fail to realize is that they generally believe what they believe because they have been indoctrinated. Some of us later than others and not all of us by official religious teachers but we have been taught that God exists and cares for us. We are told he is love and that he wants to "save" us from our evil ways, because he wants us to be with him forever. We learn these ridiculous beliefs from our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles etc. We learn these things in the same way that we learn as a child that Santa is real and if we don't behave he will not bring us anything for Christmas. Both of these things are the exact same forms of indoctrination.

Whenever things go wrong in my life and I discuss it with a friend or some family member the first thing that they tell me is to trust in God. Things will work out they say, you just have to have faith. Here in the states most people hold a basic belief in the biblical God and they live as they please and do as they please. This is seen all the time where I am from here in the Bronx, NY where gang bangers wear crucifixes in the hope that while they are outside selling crack or shooting someone in the back their god will protect them! Many have never even read what the bible has to say they just claim to believe it by default because pretty much everybody else believes it as well.

All these people share one thing in common; they are all deluded! Some more so than others but in the end it's all the same delusion with different degrees. These people did not come to God through the use of reason, they came to God through faith. It is because of this that no amount of argumentation or evidence will convince them otherwise. To break free from silly beliefs and indoctrination you must ride the horse of reason willingly no matter where it may lead you.

When a believer reaches this vital step he/she begins to analyze and rethink their beliefs from a more logical standpoint. It only took me one reading of the bible in its entirety to get there, for some it may take a little more. This is why we atheists have a saying that states: "read the bible, we need more atheists." When the bible is read not through the clouded lenses of faith but rather through the bright lights of reason it just does not hold up.

To break free from indoctrination you must first accept the fact that you have been indoctrinated, be willing to re-evaluate your beliefs from a different perspective. And finally be true to yourself and what you find out. No one can do  this for you it is just like trying to break a harmful addiction to drugs. It takes honesty and hard work. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Fear of Hell

4 'To you my friends I say: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.
5 I will tell you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has the power to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, he is the one to fear. Luke 12:4,5 (NJB)

The above scriptural passage is just one of several threats to humanity in the bible. And although to a non-believer such as myself and others that read my blog; this threat is both harmless and empty, it is not so for the fundamentalist. As a former believer it was this threat and others like it that kept me in fear for so long, and this was the last and toughest vestige of religious indoctrination that I had to overcome.

My deconversion as some are now calling it took me about six years to be complete simply because of the power of indoctrination and fear. Every day I sought for ways to explain away what I believed to have been supernatural experiences in my ministry that I had not just witnessed but on some occasions was a part of. I looked for every possible alternative explanation in psychology, psychiatry, and even read up on hypnosis and the techniques used by its practitioners.

Many of my atheist friends who have not been on the other side do not understand this irrational fear and cannot even begin to know how real it is for those that are still trapped in mental hell. Religions that debase you and make you despise this world for an imaginary life of eternal bliss if your good or torment if you are bad are nothing but mental institutions/prisons. This is what we are up against when we try to convince some believers of the error of their beliefs.

How was it that with my spoken words or even a simple stare people would be "slain in the spirit" right before my eyes? I later came to realize that this was just a combination of indoctrination and emotionalism. My many subjective experiences during those years in the ministry made my leaving the faith double hard. I couldn't just walk away till I had answers to explain away each and every one of those experiences.

It was these subjective experiences combined with indoctrination that at the same time fueled my fear of the biblical God and what he could do to me for denying he ever existed as I do now. Every single day I wondered to myself "what would happen to me if I was to die today without the Lord?" In those days hell was as real to me as this material world we reside in now and the very thought of going there terrified me for years.

I can honestly say that the doctrine of eternal torment and hell is what kept me chained to the absurdity that is religion, especially my religion of choice; Christianity. All those horrible thoughts and nightmares of what God would do to me for rejecting his so called "gift of life" haunted me for years. Of course I realize now that it was an irrational fear, but at  the time I was still learning how to be truly rational. I still did not understand nor see the concept of free thought or thinking for myself clearly.

I don't think that this situation is unique to myself, I am convinced that the deeper your indoctrination and your convictions regarding your beliefs, then the harder it is for you to get out from under the chains and bondage of religious ideas and beliefs. I see atheism as a sort of liberation of your mind as Morpheus stated in 'The Matrix' regarding being unplugged from the matrix. I don't exactly recall when it happened for me but when it did I do remember the feeling of having a huge burden taken off of my shoulders.

In the book of John 8:32 it say's that "32 you will come to know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (NJB) No words have ever been truer but not in the sense that Jesus is made to say but rather objective truth. The truth that comes from educating yourself and facing your fears and pushing forward slowly but surely breaking the chains of bondage and ignorance and freeing your mind. Learning to think reasonably about all things, and as I like to say recognizing and calling bullshit when you see it.