Oppression : a sense of being weighed down in body or mind
One of the most negative effects I had from the influence of fundamentalist Pentecostalism in my life was that of oppression. Oppression as it is defined above from the Merriam Webster dictionary which I have linked to. For the most part this oppression was self inflicted due to the depth of my delusion in those days. Although the Bible stated that we can never measure up to God's standards it also taught that we should strive to be Christ like in our own lives to the best of our abilities.
just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin,
and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned— Romans 5:12
Once I was convinced that I too had come under the condemnation of sin I felt indebted to God. In those days though I was not a practicing Christian I was brought up to believe in the Christian God, but I was always told about his love. It wasn't till I was 14 years old and in the 9th grade in high school that after meeting a believer in school that I finally converted and fully committed myself to God and embraced the Christian religion. That first time I only lasted a year before I backslid and left the church and went back into the world and to my old ways. But even though I was no longer a practicing Christian I still retained my respect for Christianity, God, and what I still believed was his word the Bible.
In 1990 on New Years day I converted once more; this was to be my final attempt at committing my life entirely to Christ. This time around I delved into the scriptures headlong and asked questions of the church elders often. I prayed often and fasted at least once every two weeks. I joined an evangelist from my church and was soon preaching God's word in churches, on street corners, on public transportation, in hospitals, and pretty much wherever I could. I always had a stack of Bible tracts on my person to hand out to people on the street. I had surrendered fully and in retrospect to the extreme to the so called will of God.
Sin: Any thought, word, desire, action, or omission of action, contrary to the law of God, or defective when compared with it.(ATS Bible Dictionary)
In those days I had committed four years of my life to the will of God and tried on a daily basis to put into practice in my life what I believed to be the commandments of the Lord. It never occurred to me once to analyze critically the concept of sin. It wasn't till I read the Bible for the first time in its entirety that I came to the realization that this God did not seem fair or just at all. When I began to question what I was reading I began to feel terrified at the prospect that either Satan would harm me during my time of weakness or that God would chastise me for even questioning him.
Why should I be indebted to God for something someone else did? Why should I be punished for someone else and their transgression that allegedly happened around 6 0r 7 thousand years ago? Why should all of man acquire the curse of ancestors so far removed in time? In my mind there is no justification for this then nor now. The key to freeing myself from this delusion is to acknowledge that God was not wise, loving, or just. In the end the best solution was to eliminate him altogether from the equation. No God, no one to offend, therefore no such thing as sin. But this task was easier said than done. I was deeply deluded and heavily shackled by the chains of my delusions. It took me six years to completely shake the effects of religious beliefs from my life.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32
It's ironic to me that this verse is even in the Bible but in the way that it is used it is done so to promote the gospel of Christ. Even today when Christians speak of their religious beliefs they refer to it as the truth. But I found a greater truth than the one that Pentecostalism or any other form of religion could ever teach me. I found out through careful research that all religions were nothing more than ancient myths and superstitions. I found out that Jews, Christians, Muslims, and all other religions that required that you submit to one or many imaginary beings were all nothing more than delusions. In my case the truth in the form of reality set me free from the imaginary and frightening world of delusions to which I was enslaved.
I might not be able to tell you oh dear theist exact details on how the universe came into existence or even how life began, but I can assure you that God did it is not the answer. The god of the gaps theory is not even a coherent and rational theory at all and is something that is not even worthy of consideration. It is entirely based on the presupposition that God exists. The burden of proof is entirely on you dear Christian to prove to me the reality of the existence of your God, and the absolute veracity of your beliefs. Honestly, I think it can't be done but I am often amused watching you theists give it the good old college try.
It wasn't till I read the Bible without reverence and fear, but objectively that I came to the realization that it was no different than any other book of myths that preceded it. Faith is not a valid means of obtaining knowledge and thus is invalid as evidence of anything. All religions of the world apply faith in one god or even many gods and they are all equally deluded and equally wrong.
I lived four years of my life worrying about keeping my thoughts pure, fighting what I now know to be very natural lusts of the flesh, begging the Lord for strength and forgiveness when I had thought I sinned. I was constantly walking on egg shells and wanted to please the Lord to the best of my abilities. But in the end on that fateful day when the chains of my religious oppression finally fell away, I felt as though the weight of the world was taken off of my shoulders. I could now accept and love people for who they are without prejudices or feeling pity for their souls thinking I knew where they would end up if they did not accept Jesus as the lord and savior of their lives. I love all people and now have a live and let live policy. Sin no longer exists in my vocabulary and the idea of gods has taken their rightful place in the category of myths.
I'm an atheist who is a proud father, husband, and now grandfather. I find meaning in life itself and joy in being privileged enough to have the opportunity to experience it on a daily basis. I've had a rough life in general and often find myself in one struggle or another but I realize that life is random and unpredictable and basically shit happens that we just can't foresee. I've learned to roll with the punches and think rationally instead of relying on an imaginary guy in the sky for help. I don't grovel and cry out to a being who in my opinion is not there. Reality is much better than superstition and I live to better myself on a daily basis and enjoy all of the wonderful things this world has to offer. Heaven is a hope that only exist in the hearts and the minds of the helplessly deluded. Hopefully some of you will find your way back to reality as I have and begin to enjoy life for yourself instead of sacrificing it for a delusion.
Note: All biblical citations are from the New International Version of the scriptures, word definitions are taken from the Merriam Webster Dictionary, and from the ATS Bible Dictionary.