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If you believe in God…

I saw the following words on Facebook and noted that the author was unidentified. However, further perusal revealed that they were highly sage in content. As my enquiring mind would dictate, I decided to digest the words and see if they were sympathetic to my journey. I separated their thoughts and married them to quotations from my writing. My thoughts are in quotes and I haven’t attempted to expand on the person’s writing; instead, I have allowed my quotes to speak for themselves.

A: If you believe in God, he is probably as real to you as if he were standing next to you. You sense his presence and his love. You can ask for advice and receive it. He can console you when you are distressed. He is a constant companion. You need him. He exists. And this is true, whatever religion or God you believe in.

Faith is the residue of things not understood and can never be a substitute for fact.

Imagine, if you will, a world where superstition runs rife, knowledge is circulated orally, and all sorts of beliefs and stories are propagated throughout Middle Eastern countries. Many Biblical stories have been passed down from earlier times. Thoughts grow and prosper; some survive and are even recycled.

If the Bible is the supposed literal (or inspired) word of God, why then did he stop dictating? So much of it is just outdated. Now that’s something to think about.

B: But if you cease believing in him, he goes away completely. You discover you do not need him. He no longer exists for you.

Religion does not have a monopoly on morality.” Or anything else in my experience.

Why does religion assume it has some bizarre ownership on people’s morality? Assuming that an atheist is any less moral than someone religious is absurd.

C: Today, hundreds of millions of ex-believers accept God as an imagination project. Utterly convincing at the time, but imagination all the same.

It is far better to form independent opinions relative to your life experience and reason than to allow yourself to be blindly led by others.

D: Perhaps this raises a question for every believer, why do some people lose their belief? Why do they let go of something so important and so real?

The ideas of today need to be honed with critical reason, factual evidence and scientific methods of enquiry so that they clearly articulate the currency of tomorrow.

Commitment to the use of critical reason, factual evidence, and scientific methods of inquiry, rather than faith and mysticism, is the best way to solve human problems.”

E: Perhaps they were not genuine believers in the first place? But that seems unlikely given that some were lifelong pastors and some dedicated much time and money to helping the church and spreading the word.

America may be the most advanced technological nation on earth but its social progress on matters of great moral importance is still fighting its way out of the dark ages when mysticism was rampant.

F: When you talk to ex-believers, most do not say anything bad happened to them. Perhaps something terrible happened to them, and they blamed God? That doesn’t seem likely either. In any case, that would be a reason to believe God let you down; it does not mean God doesn’t exist when all your experience confirms that he does.

I think what atheists and others find most offensive with religion is not only that they reject theist belief, but also the injustice, immorality and hypocrisy that often comes with it.

What other reasons could there be?

G: One possibility is they started to think. Perhaps, when they looked seriously, they could find no objective evidence that God exists. Maybe they realised it was impossible to disprove the possibility that their God was made up.

Generally, people assume that a theory (for example, the theory of evolution) is something unproven. In the scientific world, a theory is something that has evolved to fit known facts.

My thinking took me in many different directions of discovery, torment and release, but I have never regretted the journey.

H: Perhaps they began reading scripture and found uncomfortable discrepancies that should have no place in sacred texts. Maybe they saw morality in scripture that would be normal in a brutal Iron Age society but should not exist in texts inspired by the breath of a perfectly moral God.

If you read the Bible with literalist intent, it becomes the only textbook on living never updated, but if you read it with logical reasoning and an exploratory mind, all manner of things are revealed.

The study of free will is an essential foundation of rational thinking and objective application of thoughts to actions. How many seriously take up the study of free will and the constraints of pre-determined facts that limit free will, and personal action?

The teaching of literalism in some churches holds back any worthwhile discussion about finding the truth.

On one hand do you shape the truth for the sake of literalism? On the other, do you tell the truth even if it may tear down the view people have of your faith.? Alternatively, do you use the contrivance of omission and create another lie. I can only conclude that there is always a pain in truth but there is no harm in it.

G: Perhaps they gradually allowed reason and logic to take priority over imagination. Maybe this led them to realise they could imagine God, and they could imagine no God. And the no-God scenario made much more sense.

Everyone can do this if they try.

Science has made in my lifetime, the most staggering achievements and they are embraced, recognised and enjoyed by all sections of society. The only areas that I can think of where science is questioned is in the religious fever of climate change doubters, conservative politics and religious belief.

Nothing has ever stood in the way of science and technology. Its advancement has been staggering. So why are the conservative political and religious forces so opposed to it?

Generally people assume that a theory (for example the theory of evolution) is something unproven. In the scientific world, a theory is something that has evolved to fit known facts.

We all have to make important decisions in our lives.” Nothing is more important than rejecting those things that tempt us into being somebody we are not.

There are three kinds of people. Those who know. Those who know when they are shown or listen, and those who have no interest in knowing.

Thank goodness, my children, in the early stage of their development, acquired independent minds. This rendered any attempt by me at indoctrination of any sort futile. Teach your children how to think. Not what to think.

My thoughts for the day

When asked as to my belief or otherwise in religion, or indeed my atheist thoughts, I can only say that I find myself in a perpetual state of observation which of course is the very basis of science or fact.

The ability of thinking human beings to blindly embrace what they are being told without referring to evaluation and the consideration of scientific fact, truth and reason never ceases to amaze me. It is tantamount to the rejection of rational explanation.

I have concluded that one of the nasty effects religion (any religion) has on people is “that it teaches that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding.”

Sometimes I allow myself the indulgence of thinking I know a lot. Then I realise that in the totality of things, I know little. One thing I am certain of however is that there are known facts in the world because science proves them.

I am often staggered with the vigour American atheists use to confront religion. However, when one examines the conduct of religious institutions in that country I cannot say I am the least surprised.

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14 comments

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  1. Keitha Granville

    A meaty topic today JL.

    I have one dear friend who is a committed, practising Salvationist, her husband a lapsed Catholic. She is one of the most generous “believers ” I know. Never has she tried to ‘convert’ me, she simply states her belief and faith when asked, and lives it.

    The Bible surely is a collection of ideas and stories written down a very long time ago. We don’t live the way society was in the 18th century any longer, so why on earth are we following to the letter something written in the first few centuries ? As you say, it’s not meant to be taken literally, therein lies the problem. Same for any other faith text. Look behind the ACTUAL and find the reasoning, the thoughts. We were taught that “Jesus loves you, this I know, for the Bible tells me so ” – well that’s fine, fits with my thinking.

    The trouble with religion of any flavour it seems to me is the overzealous efforts by the leaders to convert – mine is bigger than yours.
    If everyone who believes in anything simply accepted that they do and others don’t, the world would be a better place.

    I am unsure where I sit – I was raised C of E, went to an Anglican school, attended church at Easter and Christmas. Then, I didn’t question, but now I’m puzzled about the nature of “god”. I understand the principle of free will and therefore some people are not nice, but I don’t understand how “all seeing all knowing LOVING god” allows pain, suffering, disaster and horror to descend on innocent children. Stephen Fry talked once to a theologian and that was his argument – how can you believe in an entity that allows this suffering ?

    I prefer to follow the hippy mantra I guess – peace and love brothers and sisters, live and let live, try to do no harm to others, be kind to animals, be kind to the planet. Seems to me Jesus might have been a bit of a flower child himself. That’s a world we could all aspire to live in.

  2. leefe

    Raised Catholic. Wanted to believe, as a child, because I needed something solid and reliable in my life. But when you read the book right through, the inconsistencies, contradictions and illogic are overwhelming. Then you study the history, and the problems become greater. And the same appliies to them all.

    The greatest realisation zealots need is that belief does not make something so and especially that YOUR belief is no greater and, therefore, no more likely to be true, than anothers. But that requires accepting that others are equal to you, and zealots are not generally very good at that.

  3. Harry Lime

    Jesus,Mary and Joseph,John,are you batting for Satan’s side?Like leefe,brought up Catholic,although my parents weren’t at all religious,but what fixed me was a religious zealot Christian Brother in grade 5.Couldn’t articulate it at the time,but I knew something was seriously wrong,and I’ve seen nothing since to alter my perception.A small correction John,God isn’t a ‘He’..it’s a ‘She’.

  4. Terence Mills

    Some years ago I spoke with several people – pentecostals I guess you would call them – who had just returned from a visit to Jerusalem and the Holy Land.

    They raved about the spiritual experience but when I asked about the Israel/ Palestinian ongoing conflict they said : “if only they ( the Jews and Muslims) would embrace the Lord and accept Jesus as their Saviour all would be well.”

    I thought then, well that sums up the problem doesn’t it ?

  5. Greg Hill

    My first year of Primary School, my first Religious Instruction class, the teacher told us we were going to pray and that God would speak to us. Still haven”t heard back.

  6. New England Cocky

    Naughty John Lord ….. encouraging your kids to develop independent minds by teaching them to think. That is a likely consequence of teaching them to read & question I am amazed at the sexual chaos you have engendered within the ranks of the rock spider kiddie fiddlers within the ranks of the clergy of all persuasions ….. kids challenging ”the authority of the Church” or should that be the ”Sexual Deviations of the Clergy”?

    The Roman Church is the oldest foreign owned multinational corporation in Australia and the world and seemingly above the law of the land in just about every context, yet are still hawking their historical products of sky fairies, dispensations & child pederasty without fear or favour, while enjoying ”charity status” and paying tithes to the Vatican from government funding to ”a third rate childminding service” masquerading as a school education system.

  7. Douglas Pritchard

    Only terrorists exercise power, and control, by putting the fear of God into the individual.
    But then Religion gives the game a new dimension.
    You may fear a nuclear armageddon, but far worse is to spend “eternity” standing in liquid waste saying “Dont make a wave”.
    Your local vicar is simply one component of a movement to make you fearful, and compliant.
    “Do as we say-or else”.

  8. Pete Petrass

    The thing I have long had the most problem with regarding “believers” is the lies and excuses. Ask any of them why a child was molested, a woman brutally raped, others murdered, etc and all you get in response is a litany of excuses. If god is (allegedly) so ever present and powerful they why does he allow such misery in the world, such horrendous acts of barbarism??? Why does he allow so many of his “representatives” to be pedo’s, and then allow his churches to actively protect them??? Why does he allow the churches to hoard billions of dollars instead of actually doing what (alleged) christianity preaches by helping those in need???
    One could go on forever with questions they cannot answer, yet they continue to cling to their brainwashing cults with a vengeance.
    I was one of they lucky ones. My mother was brought up in a convent run by absolute arsehole nuns, my father in a catholic household with all the trimmings. They are both (understandably) now non religious. Fortunately for my siblings and I they allowed us to make our own decisions on religion, all of us smart enough to choose the door marked ATHIEST.

  9. David Stakes

    As my Father said to me now departed, we all find out in the end. Often wonder if he found out.

  10. Terence Mills

    David

    Reminds me of the quotation attributed to Voltaire when on his deathbed, a priest in attendance called upon him to renounce the devil. Voltaire considered his advice, but decided not to follow it. “This is no time,” he said, “to be making new enemies”

  11. Max Gross

    One rule only: do no harm.

  12. wam

    I remember your series of your incursion into religion.
    I missed the last part where you were going to tell us why you quit.
    Were you religious when you taught your children how to think?

  13. John Lord

    Wam. Yes.

  14. wam

    Thanks, John, keep strong.
    ps
    I am proud that my children and grandchildren are independent and free of god led constraints. One married a catholic police officer, now lapsed, and the other a 7th day, now an atheist.

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