Thursday, June 28, 2007

Just God, Hold The Religion

One of the most frequent comments I have heard from believers regarding this blog (and my arguments in general) goes something like this: “Sure religions cause a lot of problems but it’s not God’s fault. There’s nothing wrong with believing in God. You should be arguing against religion, not God.” I have to scratch my head when people make such statements. Where do they think the concept of God comes from? What do they think religion is? The fact of the matter is that belief in God IS religion. God concepts are codified and perpetuated by organized religions. Left to themselves people would never come up with a consistent view of God if they did it at all. And organized religion is nothing more than groups of people who agree on a certain definition of God. The beliefs are their religion. The organization is secondary. The dogma that goes along with belief in God merely differentiates the groups.

It seems that a lot of people these days are noticing the hypocrisy, oppression, bigotry, intolerance, cruelty and greed associated with organized religion. But instead of questioning the core concept of God, they simply take their God with them and step away from the organization. (Julia Sweeney has recorded a great comedy routine where she talks about this) Some people are even raising their children with this God-only religion. They think this somehow makes them non-religious. And it is important to note that the God concept they take with them is almost invariably the one their religion gave them. When you ask them to describe God and what he wants or what he does, their answers usually sound just like the religion they left. If they were Christians, they usually keep Jesus and all the dogma of virgin birth, resurrection and salvation. They may be physically disassociated with the group but mentally they might as well be right back in church.

I can certainly see the attraction in this approach. You only have to give up what you don’t like. The great thing about this is that no one can question your beliefs because they aren’t tied to some label with all its ancient dogma, ritual and pageantry. It is appealing because it allows a person to modify their beliefs anytime they feel like it. You can say Jesus was gay if you want to because it’s no one’s business but yours. Too bad most of these people don’t change their beliefs noticeably. That seems rather pointless to me. For those who have the confidence to actually make a real change it turns out to be one of the first steps in becoming an atheist or agnostic. Whether consciously or not, what they have usually done is switch from thinking emotionally to thinking rationally. They have analyzed the claims of religion and cleared away a lot of unexplainable and incoherent nonsense. That is a good thing, but it’s only the beginning.

I think there are several reasons people hang onto God when they abandon organized religion.
  1. To let go of God is like saying goodbye to an old friend or a family member. They have normally grown up with this God as their ready companion or confidant or confessor. Even if they don’t always think about God, he has been a fixture in their lives - albeit an imaginary fixture.
  2. It’s built in. God concepts are part of human evolutionary development. It is a basic human instinct to anthropomorphize things like forces of nature and infinity that we don’t understand. But being a rational, civilized human means we have to overcome many of our natural instincts.
  3. The problems of religion are obviously the fault of people, not God. They think God is as much a victim of religion as they are. But if God does exist, who are they do decide this for him and if God doesn’t exist they are just keeping their imaginary friend.
  4. They are hedging their bets. According to many, the one truly unforgivable sin is to turn your back on God once you’ve known him. Leaving a church is bad enough but leaving God is like worshipping the devil. So they are covered if it turns out there is something to this God thing. These people probably aren’t very committed to it. They need to just fish or cut bait.
  5. They are worried about what their family would think if they were to announce that they had become atheists. That is a serious concern. Many families have disowned people for becoming atheist. I remember the story of a young man who told his mother he had something to tell her about himself that she wasn’t going to like. When he finally got to the point and said he was an atheist, she said she could have accepted it if he said he was gay or a pedophile or a gangster but he was no longer her son if he insisted on being an atheist. She would have rather found out he was terminally ill. In some parts of the world it is legal to kill your child if they deny God.
A person who leaves organized religion is usually a more observant, analytical person who likes to do their own thinking rather than blindly and obediently following ritual and custom. Either they are turned off by the hypocrisy and intolerance or they see the contradictions and circular thinking of religion and don’t want to be associated with obvious nonsense. But when you leave the realm of organized religion and start to analyze the things you know about God, you realize that you know absolutely nothing about it. God is completely unknowable. You may have imagined what God is like. It’s not as if there is such a thing as God that can be discovered. Usually all you have is the dogma you were taught or absorbed from your culture. A very thoughtful person will eventually realize that the concept of God is intellectually bankrupt and childish as Santa Claus. Leaving organized religion does not make you a non-religious person unless you rid yourself of the mystical magical nonsense called God.

12 comments:

Robin said...

I'm christian, and am I changed in any way after reading this? - No!

Will any other christian be changed after reading this? - No!

Why? - Becuase all christians (and by christians I mean those who actually love God) have recieved
help from God, when they've been down, in times of sorrow.

Please don't mix christians with bad people who say they are christian. What you see on TV, or in the newspapers, that's mostly mad/bad people.

Will Friday said...

Well, Robin, it is abundently clear that you did not read my blog if you think I get my information about Christians from TV. I was born a Christian, I was ordained in a Christian church and I taught scripture study classes for several years and performed official ordinances like baptism and other ceremonies. I get my information about Christians from actual experience.

And it is clear that you are wrong in thinking that Christians are immune to changing their minds about the delusions of religion. It happened to me and it has happened to many other devout Christians, including other clergy. I'm sorry but you demonstrate your ignorance by making generalizations without factual basis. And you demonstrate your hypocrisy by lying about actually reading this blog.

Dragnet said...

With all due respect Robin.
How you could possibly know if "any other Christian" would be changed by reading this is a bit presumptuous of you I think. That being said, I, like will, am an EX-Christian. When I read your statement about "all Christians (and by Christians I mean those who actually love God) Do you honestly believe that ONLY Christians "Love God" I am quite certain that your opinion would seem quaint and very misinformed to the many devout Muslims or Jews. I find it interesting that so many religions claim to be the only true faith. That alone should give you pause.
I find it most interesting that a Jewish philosopher with eastern influences was turned in to a deity. The words that SO many Christians claim to be from God incarnate are really just simple ideas on how humans should treat each other in order to keep from chaos and ruin. I wonder cna you define Love when you say you Love God what exactly do you mean by love. What you need to do is open your eyes and really see the world.
Not just your little corner of it.

redsox said...

Definately what Robin said... you or the fucking devil itself cannot make me change. I think you're retard, I don't care if God did not answer to any of your prayers, remember. GOD'S WILL... I'm sorry for you, you can fucking die right now, and you know what? it would be the same, just another loser dead, it wouldn't change a thing, maybe it's for the best. Thank You.

Will Friday said...

Hi Redsox,

I'm glad you came by to vent your putrid spleen here. It really does lend credence to my points when illiterate bastards like you come and say such vile things to a person who is simply expressing their opinion. I could talk for hours and not so eloquently express the utter uselessness and danger of religion. Thanks again. I hope you stop by regularly so I can use you as an example. Your kind of blind stupidity and spiteful hatred should go a long way toward converting people to my opinion.

fuckyou said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Will Friday said...

Well, it looks like our resident retard didn't make himself look stupid enough the first time he dropped his pants in public. Rest assured, moron, I won't give you a second thought.

fuckyou_motherfucker said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dragnet said...

Oh My!
I don't know if my emotional state will ever recover from such an onslaught. I guess I am just going to have to get down on my knees and...
Oh Wait, first I have to pick myself up from laughing so hard.
It must be a result of inbreeding. It has to be some sort of mental defect.
Intelligent conversation would be impossible with this type of person.
They scare me more than any other.

I would have like to read what the deleted comments were. OR maybe not.
Anyway, you are right about one thing.
These guys illustrate the point better than any other.

Robin said...

Dragnet & Will.

My point is that real christians are those who actually love God. I doubt you were a real christian.

And please, I'm not that good at english, since I'm not american/english, and I'm sure that many other christians like me, would say this far more eloquently than I'm equiped to do. So i'll have to ask for your indulgences here. I'm actually quite bad at "debating", hence my grades on that topic in school. But still...

Allow me to define: Real Christian.

1. A real christian believes in Jesus, and sees him as the only God! He/She also loves "him"

2. If you love Jesus, then you do what he says, right? Becuase otherwise, you're not a christian.

Tell me; Did you really do what Jesus told us to do? Did you really act, the way Jesus wants us to act?

I'm going to be honest, most of the time, I'm not a real christian, hence my sins. I'm only human, after all.

And what drags me to be this other person, this person that can be seen everywere. The person that sleeps with girls he doesn't know much about, and that person makes fun of unfourtunate people every day, etc?

It's partly the fear of being seen by other people as a scary, crazy and mad person. Becuase real christians, are those who won't be getting the attention of the really hot girls/boys, not the attention of the cool people, that everyone wants to be friends with and so forth...

If you're becoming a real christian; you need to drop all those things. You need to rely on God, and instead of loving earth stuff, focus on loving God stuff. I find it hard to do that, because I'm too damn stubborn and stupid to live with the thought that the pretty girl next door will laugh at me with her friends, calling me crazy and weird.

I'm not as smart as you Will, nor you Dragnet. I'm Just an 18-year old kid. I'm not better than any of you, I don't think so. But depite that all, I'm still very, very convinced there actually is a God, and that God is Jesus. I used to be better, and during those days I felt it, and I saw it, and it made me happier than ever! (I don't do drugs)

I'm not here to convince you, nor advice you in any way. I'm here to tell you that my eyes are wide open! I AM NOT isolated and given information from only one side. I love to explore the world, to understand all of the human behaviours. I love(non-sexuall:O) my athiest friends, and if I had jewish friends, I'd love 'em too!

Current things i explore:

How can a single girl make such impact on you?

Why didn't Al Gore win?

Why are Fox News denying Global Warming:O?

Why am I talking about american politics while trying to defend my religion?;/

Oh btw, if I did not write it above..(my scroll isn't working) I chose christianity, not because of my parents, nor mad schools (I saw that documentry with all those crazy priests and stuff) I chose it becuase it works! You just need to decide for yourself which path that works for you, based on what you've been through, and explored, isn't that how it should be? For me, after having explored so much, I feel that chosing this path is right. But before I walk down this path, I need to fix some things :) And, if you know being an atheist is best for your sake, then all best of wishes,(!) and I really mean that! It's all about the warm feeling in the heart, of happiness, like when you see David Letterman showing clips of George W Bush(You can't beat that segment!!)

And no, I did not read your whole blog, I'm just very good at posting non-topic releated statements:p And please, don't make fun of me in a sopishticated way, it's annoying;/

Dragnet said...

Robin;
So many things in your latest post.
I certainly had no intention of patronizing nor making fun of you. I am fairly sure I said nothing that would come accross that way. In fact I offered "ALL DUE RESPECT"

With that in mind let us explore your last post a little bit.

I tried to comprehend your definition of a Christian and just could not. As stated in previous posts I was once a christian. I read the scriptures and tried to follow the "words of Christ"
As I grew older I began to question those words more closely.
I found that OLDER theologies and belief systems had already been written and these religions were not from the god of Abraham. They call for treating each other with respect. Not to judge too quickly. To allow for the frailties of humanity. I strongly encourage you to explore your belief system to the fullest.
I have to ask, the way you say you chose Christianity because it works. Works for what. Usually when somone choses this type of thing it is because they are struggling with emotional issues. Struggling with becoming a responsible adult. Had a Mother or Father that was abusive.
Most often I find it so when people are trying to recover from drug addictions and or alcoholism. Those twelve Step programs are nothing more than veiled christianity with the higher power and stuff.
When people are down they turn to something that helps them get up.
It is simply my opinion that these things are nothing more than crutches. Placebos at best. It is when you realize that you are the only one that can make your decisions for you you will begin making the right ones.
I have a saying.
It is More important to be responsible with your actions that for your actions.
Because if you are responsible with your actions you will have NO problems being responsible for them.
You asked did I truly do what Jesus told us to do? I believe I did. At the time I was doing it I was certain of it.
Did it matter. Nope. Nothing EVER changed. I think Job was an idiot to have so much patience.

Why can One girl make an impact. It is called biology. Her hormones are impacting you. The trick is knowing it and knowing what is appropriate behavior because of it. Trust me when I say this, YOU are NOT unique. At least not when it comes to dealing with hormonal changes and sex.

Al Gore did not win because he has all the charisma of a box of hammers. He is dead pan and dry.
He has tried since losing to improve on this and has made some strides but face it, he just ain't good enough.

Fox News is not denying global warming. They are just calling it something else. And Christianity is not the answer to global Climate Change. Population control, Alternative Power sources, and the elimination of CARBON are the only real answers. Unfortunately a single Volcanoe spew more chlorine carbon and other greenhouse gas than all of the human contributions since the beginning of time. Can we slow it down? maybe some but it will still come. It has come before and will come again. Look at the real science. Al Gore has tried to posit that Carbon is the highest it has ever been. That is almost completely un provable. We can prove that the temperature of the earths atmosphere was much higher than it is now. from the size of impact craters accross the globe and the fact that we can find in the crust of the earth "CARBON" lines where entire continents were literally on fire. Do your own research, don't just read and accept everything you read from someone taking a position on ANY subject NOT EVEN ME :-). Let me ask you a question.
Before there were fire fighters, how did all those forest fires get put out? What happened to all that carbon? I would be willing to bet that the carbon level were just as high or higher back then as well just because it was not trapped in an Ice sheet does not mean it was not there. before the ice sheet formed the last time there would have been a great deal of rain that would have trapped the carbon in water. water laden with minerals would be heavier that water without so it would flow to the ocean floor. Are you aware of the Carbon gas escaping from the floor of the ocean. I strongly encourage you to do the research and then do the math. Do I believe that Global climate change is happening? YES
I also believe that it has and will happen again and again.

One last thing. Read the words attributed to Jesus, then read the words of others who were never exposed to Jesus. Find the similarities for your self. Don't take my word for it.

Peace!

Teejay said...

Will, I would like to say that I think you had my number when you wrote this post. I would like to add that you are prone to piss off Christians like Robin when you write this and you both have a right to how you feel. Christians, i'm sure you know from your experience, are very narrow thinkers and very easily offended by other beliefs and possibilities. i know, I was once a Christian. I would like to try to explain my experience in a nutshell:
I am very happy and grateful that I was a Christian, i see it as a stepping stone in my personal evolutionary journey. The reason I once didn't ever consider and most Christians don't ever consider any other possibilities is the fear of the devil's lies and going to hell, this is such a powerful stronghold you have no idea, or maybe you do. I was finally brave enough to leave the church and eventually resume the agnostic beliefs I had as a young person before I converted to Christianity. I wouldn't go as far as to say that I personally don't believe God exists, I just don't know. But I do like having the freedom to determine what I believe is right and wrong. I love truth and justice and righteousness and I try to live this way (for my own good) but I also have the freedom that I am doing it because I want to not because I have to and therefore do not use it to feel superior to others. I could go on and on, this is only the tip. But for Robin, Whenever I or anybody else received help from God, yes, it could have been God, or it could have been our own motivation to better something in our life and give God the credit. I believe our physiological (?) make up can heal and do all kinds of great things in our bodies and minds based on any form of faith.