This is a post I wrote over a year ago and never published, because I wasn't quite ready to "out" myself. Now, a year later, I'm still not sure if I'm ready, but, here goes...
So, I’ve been doing a lot of studying and thinking lately. The main thought I’ve had was this: “Had I been born in to any other time or culture, my beliefs would have been completely different, and I’d have been completely convinced that religion was the only true one, the only way to god(s/esses)” When that thought formed fully, I was left with a few choices – change my beliefs, decide to blindly follow what I’d always been taught, or start questioning everything. Being who I am, naturally I chose the questioning.
I realized that if I was going to scoff at the miracle claims of all the other religions, I’d have to subject Christianity to the same scoffing. There’s absolutely no way to claim that any of them are true, and if you insist one of them is true, then you have no basis for saying a different one is false. You’ve opened Pandora’s Box, so to speak.
Then, as I was studying, I saw that nearly every miracle in the bible was in other religions, and usually the other religions miracle claim predated the claims in the bible. Nearly every great prophet was virgin born, most of them were crucified or otherwise killed for the sins or good of all, a lot of them descended in to hell, and all of them rose again, most of the then ascended in to heaven, where they sit at the right hand of the head god (who was also their father) and judge humans. Oh, and all these other stories? They predate the Jesus story by a few centuries. And one other interesting tidbit, most of the virgins’ names were some form of Mary.
That left me with one option – non-belief. It also meant I needed to study real science – you know, the Big Bang and evolution. Growing up, I was only taught the straw man arguments against both theories. Now that I have rejected all myths and superstitions, all creation myths and any help from a supernatural being, I get to see how strong, overwhelming, really, the evidence for the big bang and evolution really are.
After that, I decided I was going to read the bible from beginning to end. I have to say, God is a particularly nasty character. Everyone (including god himself) say’s god is just and merciful. But was it just or merciful to like Abel’s sacrifice better than Cain’s? Cain brought the firstfruits, just like god said. So basically, god caused the jealousy between Cain and Abel, ultimately leading the Abel’s murder (supposing that any of the account is factual). Also, that whole Eve and the forbidden fruit story? Besides having parallels in every other religion (myths that predate the Hebrew myth), why would god give a human free will, curiosity, and a rational brain, tell them that this tree will make then know good and evil and then forbid them to eat it? It’s like he wanted little robots instead of people who are curious about the world around them, people who want to know, to understand. If we were created in god’s image, why are we being punished for being like him? For questioning, for wanting to know. Supposing god to be like us, he wants to know, he wants to understand. And supposing us to be created like him, we’re just being like him in questioning. Therefore, it follows that we shouldn’t be punished for it. Also, how is it JUST for people who didn’t commit that first “sin” to be punished for it? If one of your kids breaks something, you don’t punish the other kid. Or that kids kid. But god claims he does (punishing down to the third and fourth generation)…how, I ask you, is that merciful? Or even just???
Then, as you get further in to the bible, god killed EVERY.SINGLE.PERSON. simply because they were exercising their free will - WHICH HE GAVE THEM. Well, everyone but Noah and his family. Oh, and the animals. There’s nothing loving, kind or merciful about that. It’s horrific. Babies, children, pregnant women, men, women, everyone. Drowned.
Later, god says “Jacob I loved and Esau I hated.” Why? Definitely not because of anything either one did. Just because, arbitrarily. It’s like he rolled a dice and went with whatever came up. And then the plagues in Egypt – does no one else see the gross injustice in punishing pharaoh and all his people because god hardened pharaohs heart just so he (god) could show off? Because that’s what it boils down to. God even said “I will harden pharaohs heart” and then he said “I will kill you livestock/firstborn sons because you have hardened your heart” According to this story, pharaoh didn’t even have a choice about hardening his heart or not! And then he was punished for doing exactly what god wanted!!!
Then, the genocide. OH, the genocide. It’s truly horrific, barbaric. Everyone in the circles I grew up in seemed to blame the natives of the land for fighting against the Israelites, when in reality, the Israelites (according to and supposing the biblical accounts to be true) came in and just invaded and started killing literally everyone. Another thing that has always bugged me, and I’m finally allowing myself to think and say, is that whole thing with Acsah and taking some plunder. God had told the Israelites not to take anything for themselves, but to give it all to god and the tabernacle. But Acsah took some for himself and hid it in his tent. God got mad so started killing random Israelites, even though they hadn’t done anything wrong. Moses pleaded with god to stop and god did and exposed who had taken the spoils. Then, he told everyone to step away from Acsah and his tents, then the earth opened up and swallowed the WHOLE family. Even though the women and children hadn’t gone to war, and none of Acsah’s people had stolen anything, the entire family got punished. That story has always bothered me. So did the one with the golden calf and the Levites rushing over to help kill their fellow Israelites. Then they got rewarded with the priesthood and working in the temple for their eagerness to kill.
I guess what I’m trying to say with this little post, is that I don’t understand how anyone can say god is loving. I know, I know, the New Testament does away with the Old Testament. Only it doesn’t. Jesus himself is purported to have said that he “did not come to do away with the Law, but to fulfill it. As long as heaven and earth remain, not one jot or tittle shall pass away”. Which is basically saying Christians are still supposed to be following Old Testament Law. So those crazy people you scoff at? The ones calling for the death penalty for rebellious teenagers? Yeah, they’re just following the bible literally. Also, Jesus was the one who brought up the whole hell issue. And that is one place where the punishment definitely does NOT fit the crime. Is gods ego so fragile and tiny that he has to punish people by burning them for all eternity just because they used their intellect and followed the evidence wherever it led, and they didn’t grovel at his feet and worship him? .
And now to touch briefly on the morality issue. Biblical morals aren’t that great. Genocide. Polygamy. Rape. Murder. Sure, there are a few good things (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you), but for the most part, in our day to day lives, we’re not following biblical laws so much as cultural morals. All of us, whether we want to admit it or not. Humanist morals are more relative, sure. But that’s because we look at the situation and try to figure out what the best thing for the most people is. What’s best for humanity in general? What causes the least amount of suffering? What causes the greatest happiness and ease? And we try to go from there. We don’t think there’s only one way to live, only one way to be right. Because there isn’t. Everyone, and every situation, is different. Different actions are called for in different situations. There’s no “one size fits all” solution to anything. Life is far too complicated for that. But that’s part of what makes life so beautiful. So incredibly precious. There didn’t have to be any life at all, but there is. The odds of you being here were pretty slim. Yet here you are. Living, breathing, reading, thinking, reveling in the beauty around you. Life is so fleeting, blink and you’ll miss it. Knowing that this life is all there is, that I’m around for such a short time, makes life so much more precious, each moment is to be cherished. Every second is so important. Knowing that this is all I have, it makes me want to be a better mom; a better, kinder person; take better care of our precious, life-giving earth; take good care of our animal cousins; and leave this world a better place for me having been in it.
I know most people won’t agree with me on anything I’ve written, and that’s OK. All I want, is for you to accept my story, accept me for who I am and what I (don’t) believe, and please, no proselytizing. Remember, I grew up in all that, I know most of the tricks and jargon, and you’re not going to change my mind. Believe me, I’ve read and studied BOTH sides. I’m not the type of person to make any decision lightly. I study everything thoroughly before deciding what to do. It’s just how I’m wired, so I’ve definitely done my homework on these issues. And, thank you for reading this incredibly long post and sticking with me to the end