This post is about one of my most recent reminiscences of my life as a fundamentalist believer from 1990 - 1994. Most of my beliefs at the time were a combination of head knowledge as well as the investment of emotions and subjective apparently "spiritual" experiences. If you ask most Pentecostals how they know that God is real, they will most likely reply that they can feel his presence all the time or in times of need. I can certainly attest to this myself in that I too believed that I felt his presence at all times within me and around me.
At the time I was going through a lot of changes in my life, I was still single and completely committed and focused on the growth of my ministry and most importantly the task of "saving souls" for Jesus. I was a young man of twenty one years of age living with my mom, keeping a full time job, and the rest of my time was devoted to spreading the gospel and doing the work of the Lord. I evangelized to everyone and anyone who would listen to me whether it was on the subway, bus, at work, on the street.
But there were times in my personal life where I had felt like I was alone, or when things weren't quite going my way that I was either not right with God or he was testing me or Satan and his minions had picked me that week to be their crash test dummy in this game called life. I remember many times in the privacy of my room where I would on bended knee cry out to God for hours at a time. I shed many tears of dismay and frustration when things seemed overwhelming. I would search the scriptures for a word from the Lord that would ease my fears.
One way I used to practice in order to get a word from the Lord was to simply pray over my bible and ask him to speak to me. I would then randomly open the bible to any page and most of the time I would find something in there that I could apply to my situation. Or I would read some kind of message of comfort into the text and thank and praise God for letting me know that he was on it. These same sentiments are shared and are more prevalent in song such as the hymn 'He's got the whole world in his hands' or the ever popular song 'God is watching us' by Bette Midler.
Although I believe now that religion is a delusion it does serve a purpose, especially for the most extreme believers. By extreme I mean the more charismatic believers such as the Baptists and Pentecostals. There is a sort of comfort in believing that there is some being who cares for you and is in charge of every situation that you confront in life. But anyone who has seen tragedy up close can tell you it is a false sense of security. It's comfort food and nothing more.
What do you say to that poor child born into a family in Haiti in abject poverty? Or maybe one of 10 children born into a big family in some tribe in Africa? Places where people die of starvation, malnutrition, and just outright poverty every single day. Where is God? It's easy from the believers point of view to place the blame on the sufferers of these tragedies, and in a way they are to a certain extent correct to do so. For example what is a woman who could barely feed herself doing having children? In places like those mentioned above God does absolutely no good. But you have to take into consideration these peoples cultural and religious beliefs as well.
In the end whether a Christian or secular organization, it's not your religious beliefs that can help these people; it's people that can help through hard work and dedication. Frederick Douglas the former slave turned abolitionist said it best " I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs." God does not get you out of jams it's your actions and determination to survive and do what it takes to rectify your situation that in the end helps you triumph over adversity.
When faced with adversity and at times even insurmountable odds you only have two options:you either have to get back up, dust yourself off, and fight on with even greater determination; or just lay there and die. There is no middle ground, depending too much on the imaginary guy in the sky would only exacerbate your situation. I find my life more fulfilling as an atheist in that everything I do or achieve in this life I can attribute it to my hard work and dedication, not to some fictional being who wants to have all the glory for what he has not done.