A Hot Button Subject, Literally!

I would like to start off today’s post with a ‘welcome’ to all the new readers that have recently decided to make the questionable decision to look into my mind. I do believe a nice mention (and convenient link placement) in Chris Chamberlain’s “Bites” blog, which he writes for the Nashville Scene magazine, led quite a few of you to Doc Thinks. You can find Bites here:

What You Should Be Drinking at Flyte: Stone Vertical Epic Ale

Thank you for reading, and thank you, Chris, for the mention! And by all means, I’m here to learn and debate. Don’t be afraid to add your voice, and comment on anything that you feel you would like to say after reading. All of my posts, from the first to the most recent, are available as well. So if you are new here, look back into the past and check out what’s been said so far. With that said…let’s go.

I wear a pin on my favorite leather cap that reads ‘God Loves You. Some Restrictions May Apply’. Before anyone gets bent out of shape, hear me out on why I love it so much. I’ve got a couple of reasons why.

The first of which is the fonts that it is written with. The first part, God Loves You, is written in a larger font than the second. In fact, the second part is printed so small that most people tend to make that squinty, scrunched up face that folks make when straining to read. Therefore, some don’t bother to read it as they respond with a sweet, yet automatic blessing or nod of agreement. For me, that represents how so many people don’t bother to look a little closer to get the whole story. They take what they are given, without any effort on their part, and miss the whole meaning. When I notice this happening, I respond with “Look a little closer.” I have to be honest, I get great pleasure out of this. The many varied reactions I receive run the gamut. From shocked horror, to confusion, to pure surprise, all are entertaining. My favorite reaction by far, though, is honest curiosity. The inquisitive response of “What do you mean by that?” or “Do you really feel that that is true?” This usually strikes up some informative conversation. I get to hear different points of view on the subject. Whether I agree or not, it’s almost always interesting and enlightening. It also brings to light how uncomfortable most people feel discussing religion. I find that odd. An apprehension to discuss a subject matter that many use to form their opinions, and base important life changing decisions upon that can effect us all! That has never made sense to me. As I’ve said many times, I believe we can’t discuss it enough. We need to discuss it. I feel it is imperative to understanding each other.

When my little button stirs someone’s curiosity enough to lead them to discuss it with me, it gives me the opportunity to state the other reason why I love it so. Understand it is not a statement on whether or not God exists, it’s more of a representation of how  I believe Man has terribly warped the idea of a deity who loves unconditionally. A perfect example of this misinterpretation of ‘The Word’ that I’m speaking of would be a sign that I saw being held up by a young woman claiming to be Christian marching at a gay marriage opposition rally. The sign read ‘I don’t hate gays, God does.’ Wow, right? I know, I know. This is an extreme example, but I think it shows just how easy it is to change the original meaning of a good idea. A perfect example of how, if you don’t step back and understand that the possibility of being in the wrong always exists, you can be paving your road to the proverbial Hell rather than Heaven. It shows the dangers of not challenging those in power no matter how powerful, pious, or popular they are. Scholar or scientist, Preacher or politician, President or Pope. Everyone needs an ego check from time to time. If the powerful aren’t kept in check, that leads to absolute power. And I think we all know where that leads.

So if you happen to run into me, I hope that instead of being offended by the phrase on my button, you will discuss it with me. You might actually make a difference in my thinking. After all, there is always the possibility I might be wrong.


Phantoms and Pharaohs

It’s strange. I’ve found that just because you know it’s not there, it doesn’t disappear as easily as you would think. I’m speaking of dealing with the realization that the likelihood of there actually being someone in charge of all of ‘this’ is rather slim. But even with that epiphany, or possibly in spite of it, the old habits die hard. I still find myself shaking my fist at the sky when frustrated. Or thanking some invisible force for something good that has happened, only to remind myself that, most likely, there isn’t anyone listening. That bothered me at first. I thought that maybe it meant someone was there. As if that was some sort of proof! Then the fog cleared, and I realized that it was simply habit. Forty years of blindly believing it sort of ingrained it into my psyche, I suppose. I likened it to that phantom limb phenomenon. Like when someone loses an arm or a leg, yet they still feel pain or an itch in said limb. I’m so used to the idea of it being there, that my brain still acts as if it is there. Weird.

That hasn’t been the only side effect of this situation. I’ve also noticed that, even though they have become one of the most powerful communal/financial forces in the world, many in the current Christian community seem to believe that they are still being persecuted. Honestly, one person actually said that non-believers don’t ever get a backlash when they speak about what they believe, but if a Christian speaks publicly about what he believes, he’s met with adversity. Wow. Really? Apparently, it’s common for the everyday preacher to get death threats for speaking to their congregation. Yeah…..no……I don’t think so. News flash for the Christian community: YOU ARE THE MAJORITY. Especially in this country. You’re no longer fighting an uphill battle, with Romans at your heels, or Pharaohs calling for your heads anymore. You’ve got the largest voice in history, and yet a few simple questions make you react as if you are in danger of being thrown to the lions. If you don’t know the answer, just say so. There’s nothing wrong with not having all the answers. It’s okay, that’s not a sin. Well, the bible doesn’t say it is, anyway.

Now, let me make this statement very clear before you all start sending your angry responses. I understand that not all Christians are like this. I know, and am friends with, many that aren’t. I’m talking about a select group within the group. I’m not referring to all Christians. Unfortunately, I have found that it is the majority of Christians that I have debated/talked with that respond this way. I am genuinely inquisitive regarding the subject, therefore, I have many, many questions and confusion on why so many people subscribe to, what I see as a convoluted, veiled, and hard to decipher belief system. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it often in the future. This stance I take isn’t out of spite, but pure amazement toward this phenomena. Unfortunately, when I ask said questions, with pure desire to try to understand, I’m usually met with defensiveness and hostility. Rarely do I get intelligent, well thought out responses. Notice, I did not say answers, but responses. I understand that most people don’t have ‘answers’, but what I’m looking for is reasons as to why people fully and totally believe in ideas that have no tangible reasoning. And, I’m sorry, but the response of “The Bible says so.” is not acceptable. The Bible was written by men. Period.

Most often, I get the response of “Why are you so pissed off about this? You seem to be holding a lot of anger concerning this!”. What most don’t understand is that it’s not anger. It’s a passionate defiance against a belief that I was raised on, or in my opinion, duped by for most of my life! You know that feeling that folks feel after they are ‘reborn’ where they want to shout it out from the mountain tops? It’s the flip side of that for me. I want to try to wake people up from this fantastic dream world that they have been fed from birth. This magical elixir called Jesus, that is the cure for every bad thing they ever did, or will do, in their lives. I don’t believe that there is an end all, be all super fix for all that socially or emotionally ails you. If you wrong someone, it’s up to you to right things between the two of you. Going to a priest and confessing your sins doesn’t make it go away. Try this. Punch someone you don’t know in the face, go repent to God, and then go back to the person you punched. I want to know how much the person you punched cares about how many ‘hail Marys’ or ‘our Fathers’ you said before that person reciprocates. I know, I know. It’s an extreme example, but I’m trying to make a point. Confessing your ‘sins’ to a priest doesn’t absolve you to most people if you have wronged them. Making an attempt to RIGHT the wrong goes many, many more miles toward absolution than confessing to a priest. Or preferably, yet much more unlikely, not wronging said someone in the first place!

An Itch In My Craw, and Common Sense.

Before I go into the subject matter of today’s post, I want to explain something. I’ve been writing about Christianity because I grew up in that milieu. It’s what I know best, religion-wise. I’m not intentionally aiming at any certain belief system, it’s just that this is the one I’ve tried, to no avail at this point, to make sense of due to my background. I say that in the hopes that Christians will understand why it has been the subject of choice. Yes, it is a bit of a rebellion and an attempt to rewire the thought process that time and repetition has taught my brain. A rebellion against the whole idea of a god in charge of everything. I am drawn to the Christian view of the subject because it’s what I was taught to believe while growing up. I imagine if I grew up Jewish, Muslim, Taoist, or Druid, that would be my focus. Alas, none of those were the case. I grew up Christian. Therefore, I talk and write about Christianity. With that said, off we go.

Watching our nation’s political system in action recently, something has been bothering me. Something has been bothering me quite a bit. What this is is the fact that I live in a nation where most people, it seems, say they believe a certain belief, yet live a life that doesn’t parallel the system they say they claim to believe in. Not even close. Quite often they vehemently lobby against the edicts of their belief. Now, I understand that humans are fallible, and that being Christian doesn’t mean being perfect. I understand that very much, in fact. If you have read previous posts, you’ve seen I’ve admitted that many times. It has been one of the focal points of my argument against the existence of God. But the actions I see show that there are very few people that are trying, truly trying to align their lives with the teachings of the Bible. Yet we have a popularly accepted idea that we are a Christian country. Unfortunately, living in the comfort of our modern world, especially in our country which thrives on capitalism, it’s very hard not to live well beyond what we truly need. That alone goes against what the Bible teaches.

Now, sometimes being an outsider, as I have become regarding Christianity, let’s you see things differently. You can step back, and see the forest and the trees. Just as Christians can look at other religions in the most basic terms, I can now look at Christianity in it’s most basic form. I can simply look at what is written. What the words, or “The Word” if you want to take it to extremes, say. It’s one mistake I think most believers make, forgetting that they are simply reading the words of other religions, and not living within the religion. They are looking at them from an outsider’s perspective. You can see what is wrong with it more easily. Like how easy it is to see that someone else is in a bad relationship, and yet you may not see that you are in an even worse one. In that light, after reading the Bible in a few of it’s different versions, I see that most people who call themselves Christian in our country aren’t really trying very hard to follow the teachings of Christ. Excuses are made. Rationalizations are contrived. Adaptation, and personal opinion is injected into their lives to make them feel better about the fact that, if you take the words for the meaning that they have, they don’t live the lives that their God wrote the rules for. They live well beyond what they need. And I do mean need. Anything more than need, in the Christian faith, is greed. To support this idea, I will take a quote from C. S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity”.

“If our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc, is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small.”

Do you understand the gravity of that? Do you get what he means by that? That means that everybody who has more than he can spend to live a comfortable, humble life, probably isn’t doing what God and Jesus says they should be doing according to the Bible. According to “God’s Word”. And Lewis himself, being a very successful writer, fell into this trap more than most who are reading this.

Example: Owning a cell phone goes against that idea. Now, I know many people will bring up the argument of, “These days you can’t conduct business. You can’t connect to your customers. You can’t easily keep in touch with your family without one.” The argument that somehow, God understands that times have changed, and His word should change with it. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if you believe the Bible actually is the word of God, then you are taught that His word is timeless. The times should adapt to His word, rather than the other way around. Anyone who owns a cell phone, a flat screen T.V., or a computer, luxuries that we don’t actually need, but have just become accustomed to, is going against Jesus’s teachings. Understand that’s not my opinion. That’s not me judging others. That’s simply what His teachings lay out in relatively plain words. If you have more than you need, you aren’t following what the Christian doctrine asks of you. That is the realization that made me stop calling myself a Christian. I realized, due to how we are conditioned to live in our modern world, I wasn’t truly trying to be Christian. I didn’t want to. I liked the comforts of my life, as most of us do. I had worked hard to achieve the level of comfort I had, and knew I would continue to try to better my comfort level. That’s not why I came to the determination that there was no God. Those were other reasons all together. I hope you understand that. It’s simply why, at that time, I realized I shouldn’t be calling myself a Christian. I wasn’t trying to be Christian. Not anywhere near to the point that the Bible asks of me.

I’m hoping that people understand that this post isn’t a debate about whether or not God actually exists. This is simply an observation that, according to the Bible (and I know I’ve drilled those words “according to the Bible” into many of my statements here, but it’s because I feel the need to remind everyone that it isn’t my take on it. It’s simply a fact.) people in our country aren’t trying very hard to truly be Christian. If they were, we wouldn’t have so much trouble convincing the rich and ruling population of our great nation that they should be helping people in need. We wouldn’t have hospitals that refuse aid to people who don’t have insurance, while the doctors drive home in their fancy cars to their fancy homes. We wouldn’t have to remind people that they are fortunate to not have to worry about how they will pay their next month’s worth of bills, or worry about how they are going to earn the money to feed their sons and daughters, or worry about how they are going to find the cash to keep their car running so they can get to work. The wealthy would willingly give to those in need. We wouldn’t have the debate of whether or not government should decide how to distribute the excess personal wealth of our country. Our fellow Americans would be doing that on their own. Our wealthy not only don’t want to part with the abundance they have, they want more. With the fact that the wealthy run our country (And make no doubt about it, the wealthy run our country), we are not a Christian country. Our actions, as a nation, prove that. Our country does not practice Christian ideals. It does not take a Christian stance. I think that people who consider this country Christian are even more misguided than those who very happily and willingly live beyond their needs and continue to convince themselves that they are trying their best to be Christian. I’ts an untruth, by definition. It’s a fantasy world that has been created in people’s minds so that we can legitimize our lifestyles to feel better about the comfort that we live in, while we know there are others that lack, not only comfort, but basic needs.

Please know that I understand that I am one of these people as well. I though, unlike Christians, have the convenience of lack of a belief in a God. I simply believe in the idea that we, as humans, have the control over what each of us does to make the world around us better for those we come in contact with. I don’t believe it’s our duty lain down by some higher power. I simply belive that helping each other makes sense. It simply makes sense. I believe if we don’t start working together, instead of creating more reasons to disagree, we will wipe ourselves off this planet. Whether it happens by accident, or deliberately makes no difference. We now, as a race, have that power to erase Man from this earth. Therefore it’s more important now than it ever has been to realize that we should be helping each other. And make no mistake, if we do eliminate ourselves from the mix, trees will continue grow, rivers will continue to run their paths, and rains will still fall. The Earth will begin the process of covering up all evidence of us ever being here. Even beyond that, comets will continue to streak through the cosmos, planets will continue to circle their suns, and stars will continue to burn pinholes into the night sky. There just won’t be any humans to look at them any longer. That’s how insignificant we are to nature. To think we are so important that we are the only form of life that really matters in the long run, seems insane to me. Nature itself, the process that nourishes us, the situation that makes it possible for us to live on this planet, wouldn’t miss us if we were gone. In fact, it would thrive without us.

I mentioned, at the beginning, that watching the recent election set me thinking and writing on this particular subject. I see our country going to hell in a hand basket while the Democrats and Republican argue over whether the basket should be red or blue, and the Independents and Tea Party movement keep trying to convince us that we need a better basket. Meanwhile, it doesn’t seem like any of them understand that the most important thing right now would be to get out of the basket altogether. Although I don’t subscribe to any particular political party, many people would say I lean heavily to the left. Well, I can’t really argue with that. My ideas line up with the left much more often than with the right. I’m surprised that the country, if it truly considers itself Christian, isn’t more left thinking than it is. From what I have read in the bible, if He had to choose between calling Himself a Democrat or a Republican, I think Jesus would choose the donkey over the elephant.(He reportedly opted for them in the past.) He would be telling the rich and powerful in our country that they not only aught to be living more humbly, and giving the extra that they have to those in need, it’s their duty. Unfortunately, I don’t think He will be showing up. I believe the rich will get richer, the poor will stay poor, and those in control are going to drive this country straight down the road to hell while arguing over what to do with all of their money. Unless things change, this is where we are headed. Unless all the people with sway in our government who call themselves Christian actually start acting like Christians, we will continue down that road. Until the leaders of our nation start being more concerned about making sense rather than making money, we as a nation, will continue this downward spiral. I don’t see them making that change any time soon, though. I just hope I’m gone before we hit bottom, and the rest of the world begins to divide our nation’s land between themselves.

Intentions, And Belief

I never intended to be where I am in my thought process. I never knew, or had the slightest idea that I would end up where I am belief-wise. I keep learning things that the church, school, and my community never taught me. I found much of this information on my own by chance. This led me to dig deeper. A personal journey that I never intended to travel down. I always touted the idea that people were sheep. Accepting all that was fed to them simply because people with more power told them it was fact. I’ve found that quite a bit of it had false origins. And I’ve found that I, much to my chagrin, was one of the sheep. Taking what was told to me as fact, and leaving it as that. Through simply being a little more interested, a little more questioning, a little more “rebellious”, I’ve found facts that I never knew about before. I’ve found out that the actual followers of Jesus, the Judeo Christians, led by James (Jesus’s own brother) didn’t believe Jesus was divine. They believed he was the Messiah (and no, Messiah didn’t mean divine. It  just meant the true descendant of King David. The rightful heir to the throne of the King of the Jews). I’ve found that many stories in the Bible had origins in earlier Pagan religions. I’ve found that modern Christianity is really just several influential men’s interpretations of what they thought Jesus’s (or God’s) message was. I’ve found that most of the people who call themselves Christians whom I have spoken to, know less about their own religion than I do. I’ve found that the more I have learned about religion, faith, and belief systems, the less I actually know about them myself. I’ve found that every new bit of information I discover opens up several other paths of information I need to look down. I’ve found that this is going to become more of an adventure than I ever expected it to be.  I’ve found it to be more interesting than I ever thought it would be. I’ve found myself wanting to talk about it more than most people. I think about it so often, it wakes me up at night every once in a while.

Now, I understand that for some people, this is nothing new. They weren’t raised to believe in something that had no tangible basis in reality. But to me, it is shocking. I grew up being taught that everything good  that happened was because of  ‘the greatness of God’, and that everything bad that happened was due to either the evil of Satan, or ‘God’s will’. So to me, this is very new!  I’m walking through territory I’ve never known of before. Realities I never knew existed until recently. Facts that, either intentionally or simply from naivety, were kept from me. I believed all of it because I hadn’t been given the whole story. In fact, I don’t know if anyone can give me the whole story. Not at this time, at least. I don’t believe anyone who calls themselves Christian today can have anything near an educated idea of what a man named Jesus actually taught, because men (and, yes, I used the lower case version of the word because looking at history, males had the control over this whole “religion” scene) manipulated, warped, and skewed the words to work in their favor over the two thousand years or so since the actual individual called Jesus walked the earth.

I never intended to be a non-believer, but when I hear about Paul leaving out 611 commandments that the earlier versions of the five books of Moses contained (just one of many, or should I say 611 of many more changes Paul made) at the birth of what we now know as Christianity, it makes me wonder if any of what we read now was ever the word of God, or just a man’s idea to help control the horrible atrocities he was seeing taking place in his world. How can I take the word of a book who’s main character’s actual followers (New Testament of course) were wiped out before most of his teachings were actually written down? Logic tells me that much of what Jesus actually taught (and yes, due to evidence found, I do believe the man existed) was killed off when the people who heard his words and were trying to pass them along were killed off just decades after Jesus was. The world around them didn’t just magically change it’s mind. The ideas and beliefs that Jesus’s followers had were still considered radical and dangerous. They were still the minority and feared for their lives. That didn’t change after Jesus’s crucifixion. In fact, because their leader was killed, they feared for their own lives even more!

As far as we can tell in the modern world, no one who actually heard Jesus’s voice ever wrote down what he said. We only have the writings of stories handed down orally. And we have proof, thanks to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, that books and prophecies were left out. Intentionally or simply forgotten (I personally think both reasons are responsible) I can’t say, but left out of what we today know as the Bible. That’s just too much for me. The change in the demeanor of God from the Old Testament to the New Testament just looks like Man trying to make being a believer more attractive to the masses. That is Man picking and choosing what is important, instead of the word of a god. Look a little closer yourself. Check out the real history. Then try to tell me it’s so hard to believe that I don’t believe. It most likely won’t be quite as easy!

Off The Fence, And In Defense

After recently coming off the fence and stating out loud that I don’t believe in God, I have tried to explain how illogical and rudimentary the idea seems to me. To me. Some people have been offended by the comparisons I have used, and think I am being condescending. I’m very sorry people  feel I’m being condescending. I’ts not meant to be. It’s the the idea of, yes, I do feel like I’ve come out of a fog that, not only Christians, but all believers in some invisible sentient being that controls all of earth, are caught up in. I want to bring people out of that. It isn’t an intent of  being condescending to anyone, it’s wanting them to realize the view that I have. They believe in something unreal, something that’s own teachings say it needs no proof that it exists! As we go forward through time, science figures out more and more about the fact that it isn’t a “Devil” that makes people do bad things. Chemical imbalances, slowed or damaged communication between the frontal lobe and the amygdala (which is sometimes simply smaller than it is supposed to be) are the reasons people act and  are perceived as “evil”. Yet, if you believe in God (which in turn, means you believe in the Devil), the Bible tells you it’s due to the work of Satan, or “God’s will”, in stead of the dysfunction of the human brain.
So, yes, it makes me kind of sad because it does feel like grown adults I care about are still taking the view of a child who credits Santa for the presents they get on Christmas morning when there is much more proof that it is their parents buying them, and placing them under the tree. I really, really am very sorry that sounds condescending, but that’s the way it looks to me, and that is the only way I know how to explain the way it looks to me.
What I have come to believe as true, I can show you scientific, tangible proof of. What I don’t understand, I don’t try to prove. I don’t understand because I have no proof. Christianity does the opposite. It tells people to spread the idea, even if they don’t understand it. Christianity tells people who believe, they should be sad for non-believers because “they are going to Hell” because they don’t believe, and yet have NO tangible proof to support their statement. ‘Oh, you poor thing. Since you don’t believe Jesus died for your sins, you’re going to Hell.’ That seems condescending to me! All I’m saying is I don’t understand how believers can tell people they are wrong without thinking it’s condescending when they have no evidence! Meanwhile, non believers can place multitudes of evidence in front of believers while trying to explain how hard it is to understand how they believe in God, and that is condescending?
And I do have to explain that this isn’t the result of bad experiences with Christians, it’s a result of a bad life experience with Christianity itself. I think the whole world is having a bad experience with Christianity. I really do believe it is a power hungry, money worshiping, man invented controller of the masses. I’ve said this before, but I really think I need to say it more often. You should be more offended with someone like the Catholic Pope, who is supposed to be a exemplary symbol of Christianity, but wears Prada shoes, travels in a private jet, and lives in a gold covered castle while people in the world starve to death, instead of being offended by me! He (and all that don the Papal robes) disrespects the idea of Christianity much more than I do when I say I consider it fantasy. A fantasy, by definition, is “imagination unrestricted by reality”. With all of it’s magic, miracles, myth-like beings, and belief without the restriction of proof, the Bible sure seems to fit that definition. Based on definition, until reality comes into Christianity, I will consider it fantasy. Not because I want to offend anyone, but simply because that’s what the evidence shows.
I knew, due to the popularity of Christianity in this “free” country we live in, a lot of people wouldn’t like what I have to say. Unfortunately for that situation, I have to consider facts more than feelings while I delve into what I’m writing about. That’s just how it is. I know it may not be easy, believing the way I do in this country, even though some people perceive it that way. In case you don’t read any of the comments on this blog site, here is one from a reader of mine as an example of that.
I truly believe you have landed on the side you need to, for now. I believe that anyone who chases after making themselves “feel good” can never walk the life of Christ anyway. Anything great is worth the sacrifice. Even if that sacrifice means giving up my ability to “feel good”. The forefathers of this nation did not feel good while fighting to free this country from tyranny, Abraham Lincoln did not feel good while freeing the slaves (look at the “aging” pictures of his first three years in office), and Jesus did not feel good while sacrificing his life for us. So if it is feel good you are after then I have to say you have made the right decision.”

At first, I was a little upset by the assumption that I was chasing after “feeling good”. I thought I had explained that I’m  searching for knowledge, not a “feel good” state. Then I thought apparently I hadn’t explained that well enough. To be honest, I was very surprised by the fact that I felt better. Walking into a situation that I actually have more fear of repercussions, due to violent or hateful reactions from believers rather than violent or hateful reactions from racists because of the color of my skin, doesn’t seem like “chasing after feeling good” to me. It’s actually a little scary. But I believe the human race has been duped by it’s fellow Man, and I believe I have an opportunity to make others realize that. By no means do I think it will be easy. And by no means do I think it’s the safe road (just ask any gay rights defender, or abortion clinic), but I think (and that is just an opinion) it’s the right road. And until I start seeing evidence to change my route, this is the road I will continue down, and will continue to try to explain why I think it is the correct one. If it offends you to read it, by all means, stop reading. But if you simply disagree, show me where I am wrong. Change my mind. Let’s keep learning!

One Question. Any Answers?

I have a question. I think it’s a rather important question in the understanding of the Christian story. In fact, it pertains to the first story of Man that we are told of. Adam and Eve, and the sin of eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge. Now, as I understand it, in the story, God told Adam not to partake of the fruit from said tree. (It’s debatable from version to version as to whether or not God explained this to Eve, but the question at hand makes this point moot.) We, as the human race and descendants of Adam and Eve (according to the story), are born sinners because the first humans disobeyed God, and ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge. We are sinners from birth. From birth! All because Adam and Eve ate this forbidden fruit.

Now, here is the problem that I have with this idea. How does a God who is supposed to encompass the perfect example of love, punish not only the first human creatures he created and is supposed to have loved, but all of their decedents (for eternity, by the way) for disobeying Him, when He hasn’t given them the knowledge to know that disobeying Him is wrong? How is that an example of love?  It seems more to be a setup. A Godfather-esque plan to impose the right to force His creation to follow Him, or suffer His wrath. If He, first of all, actually existed, and second of all, loved the human race enough to give them the right to choose, why wouldn’t He give them the knowledge to make an educated choice? What good is the right to choose if you have no knowledge? How can you be held accountable if you not only lack the facts, but lack the ability to weigh the facts? Maybe, if Adam and Eve already had the knowledge of right and wrong, things may have gone in a different direction. Maybe He wouldn’t have had to send His son/Himself in human form to die for the sin if  He gave them knowledge of good and evil in the first place. If it actually went down the way the Bible says it did, God set them up, and in turn us, for failure. That’s cruel. That’s negligent. That’s a huge mistake made by someone who is supposed to be infallible. That is if He actually wanted his creation to succeed.

If anyone can give me a logical answer to this question, it would be a step in the direction of me moving away from non-belief. But the answer I continue to get from believers is “We can’t understand His reasons, and shouldn’t question them.” Well, I am, and will until I receive an answer that makes any sense. How can anyone make an intelligent choice to avoid punishment if you have no knowledge? I repeat for the sake of clarity. No knowledge. Not a lack of knowledge of a certain subject, but the lack of knowledge itself. The floor is open. The microphone is on. Speak up. I’m listening.

Off The Fence, And Elated To Be So!

I have recently come off the fence, and at this point in my life I now consider myself a non believer. This has upset many people who are close to me. They feel that I have become lost. They say they are sad for me. They say they are praying for me. They don’t seem to be taking into account the fact that I feel better, less encumbered, and happier than I have in years. The reason why? I was always blaming or praising some deity for everything bad or good that occurred in my life. It made me spiteful to think that there was some intelligent being letting horrible atrocities occur in my life and the lives of people I care about. On the flip side of that, I never felt worthy of congratulating myself for feats of greatness, or fantastic results for hard work I had put in. I always attributed it to some all powerful god, who, as I look back over the years I never really felt was listening or watching.  To be purely honest, I feel liberated! I now have the feeling that when I feel there is someone to thank, I know they hear it because I am looking into their eyes as I tell them, instead of looking to the sky. When I feel I have wronged someone, I know I can expect a negative reaction (be it a punch in the face, a loss of a friendship, or simply an acknowledgement of disappointment) from that person, rather than waiting for a bolt of lightning striking me down from the heavens. I now know that if someone wrongs me, I can look to them for answers as to why, not blame some fallen angel for urging them to do it, or chalking it up to “God’s Will”. When Mother Nature wreaks her havoc on my fellow man, I now believe it’s random. Whether or not people happened to be in the path of her destruction is just chance. No reason, no rhyme, no hidden agenda. Just nature taking it’s course. It’s chance. Pure chance.

That revelation has lifted a massive weight off my shoulders. I know it might seem odd that the idea that Man, and only Man being responsible for all the good or ill in our world, is comforting to me, but it is. I now know who to turn to when I feel I need a helping hand, or a shoulder to cry on. My fellow Man. I also know that when I ask for help, answers, or a reaction of any sort, it will come. I know this because the individuals I will be asking it of will be people. Not an imaginary entity that leaves it up to me to figure out what his so called answer is.

Don’t get me wrong. I do appreciate the sentiment of people who believe, and say they are praying for me. It’s sweet. It’s nice. But for me, put ten prayers in one of my hands, and ten apples in the other and we’ll see which one fills my belly first. My money is on the apples! Sorry that just seems to be more of a reality than someone praying that an apple just divinely shows up in my hand. For those of you that it works for, go ahead. Keep praying, worshiping, and kneeling in subservience to someone you can’t see. If it works for you, it works for you and that’s it. Bottom line. It doesn’t work for me.

The way I see it, we humans need to make more good happen in this world. Not some imaginary god who sits on his throne in a perfect existence called heaven. How can you know how bad it really is if you seperately live in perfection. I guarantee people living in mansions in Beverly Hills, or in Washington D.C. don’t really know what it is to struggle in this world. I know that thanks to watching these horrible people we have somehow made into stars on “reality television”. I believe that a man who wears Prada shoes and lives in one of the richest places in the world (we call him the Pope, and we call his home the Vatican) doesn’t have any idea of the struggles we commoners deal with on a daily basis. How can they figure out how to fix the common man’s problems when they don’t experience them. We, the people need to change things. We can’t count on some deity to fix it. We need to take responsibility to change it. You, me, and everyone we come in contact with. That’s the only way things will change in this world. If I give someone a dollar, I gave that dollar to that person. Not the Pope. Not Jesus. Not God. I did. If someone gives me a dollar, that person gave it to me. Not the Pope. Not Jesus. Not God. Man helping man. The middle man in life is just as useless as the middle man in faith. I have faith that somehow, some way, Man, not God, can change this world for the better. All we have to do is want it enough.

Now, that’s not saying my mind can’t be changed. (I was accused of that being the case simply because I’m about to turn forty, and was set in my ways.) I still know that I could be wrong. But at this point in my life, the case for God is weak. Very, very weak. And I don’t believe (there’s that word again “believe”) that there is anyone listening to my inner thoughts besides me. My conscience. My idea of what is right and wrong. I base that on how I would want to be treated by others, not by what a god tells me. I do believe that there are evil people in this world, and I believe that there are good people in this world. It isn’t always easy to discern which is which, but that’s the breaks. What comes in life, comes. And events in my future may change the way I think at this time. But right now, I am relieved to place blame or praise where they are due. In my fellow Man. I will continue to search, learn, and discover new ideas, beliefs, and theories, and they will continue to shape my opinions.

So, the journey continues, and I hope anyone and everyone will continue to be a part of it. You matter as much as I do. Everyone does. And everyone contributing will be held in the highest regard. Even if we disagree. Let’s keep progressing together!