freethinker

Why Losing God Hits Some of Us Harder…

 


From Neil Carter
Godless In Dixie

I wasn’t active in the skeptic movement long before I discovered how different my perspective on religion was from that of other atheists. In time I came to understand that people who have never been religious come to the subject as outsiders who cannot always sympathize with those who formerly were.

But I most definitely was religious. Except I never would have used that word to describe myself. In fact, I would have recoiled from that word as I had been thoroughly indoctrinated against accepting the label by years of hearing that I was “spiritual but not religious.” What I enjoyed was not a religion, you see, it was a relationship.

That’s utter nonsense, by the way. It most definitely is a religion. But Christian exceptionalism has always been a key component of the evangelical faith, and ironically I don’t think they are exceptional in that regard, either. I believe a majority of world faiths harbor the notion that they are uniquely authentic while all other faiths are dim reflections of the truths of which they themselves are the sole proprietary owners.

That said, my religion was absolutely relational. For me, the Christian faith was best summed up in that statement of Jesus in John 17:3 where he said:

“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

That’s the lens through which I was taught to view my religion—I viewed it fundamentally as a relationship with a living person who was to be known and experienced in daily life just like any other person would be. Well, not exactly in the same way, I suppose, since this particular person was invisible—detectable only to those who believed in him. In this relationship, one must come with a sincere expectation that God is real and that he can indeed be known by those who want to know him. As another key verse, Hebrews 11:6 explains:

A Deconversion Story…

 

From Graceful Atheist

These kinds of messages have become cliché, but I find the need to write it anyway. Mostly this is an attempt to communicate to my friends and family as succinctly but thoroughly as possible the what and the why of my deconversion from Christianity. This is also for those of you readers who have had doubts and have struggled to keep them contained.

What I am

I am no longer a Christian. In the summer of 2015 after it became increasing more difficult to hold my beliefs against surmounting evidence to the contrary I admitted to myself I no longer believed. I was a Christian for approximately 27 years, until the Jenga tower of contradiction between belief and facts came crashing down. I could no longer sustain the mental effort it required to maintain belief against the overwhelming lack of evidence for that belief.

I am an atheist. Others, wiser than I, have pointed out that this does not tell you very much about me. To say that I am not something is not very descriptive. The list of things I am not is infinite. But I am not afraid of this moniker. I am not a theist. This means I do not believe in God or gods. I do not believe in the supernatural of any kind. The natural is more than sufficient.

I am a humanist. This means that I believe humanity is the most precious existence in the cosmos. It means that loving people trumps ideology. Julia Sweeny said it better than I can. In “Letting Go of God” after tentatively putting on the “Not believing in God glasses” she says:

And I thought wait a minute, wait a minute, what about all those people who are unjustifiably jailed? … There is no god hearing their pleas and I guess this goes for the really poor people too and really oppressed people who I had this vague idea that they had a god to comfort them and then an even vaguer idea that god had orchestrated their lives for some unknowable grand design. I walked around and thought oh, no one is minding the store! … And slowly I began to see the world differently.

There is no hell, Emily…

 

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No, Jesus…

 

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Christianity preaches only servitude and dependence…

 


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Jesus?

 


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Muslims and Christians…

 


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Stephen Fry being investigated for blasphemy is just the beginning. Around the world blasphemy laws are getting more and more severe…

 

From The Independent, UK

Islamic states often justify their blasphemy laws by pointing to the existence of those in Europe, calling Europeans hypocrites for advocating for abolition whilst still having their own

He’s one of Britain’s wittiest men but the fact that humanist Stephen Fry is under investigation by police in the Republic of Ireland for blasphemy is beyond a joke.

Fry’s alleged offence two years ago was to give an eloquent restatement of the classic theological argument known as “the problem of evil”: how can an all-loving God be responsible for a world that includes so much suffering, such as “bone cancer in children”, in his words? As one head of RE at a secondary school here in England tweeted, “I use this clip at GCSE & A Level for prob of evil. If RE teachers in Ireland have are they also ‘guilty’ of blasphemy?”

Debate and discussion over powerful and emotive topics like religion and belief are, by their nature, endlessly provocative. They are also vital, and when so many countries still try to use the force of law to shut down these discussions, we all risk intellectual impoverishment.

In England and Wales the blasphemy law was repealed in 2008. In Scotland and Northern Ireland blasphemy laws remain in place, although they have not been used in recent years. Perhaps we might not expect them to be – but then did we expect them to be in Ireland? And, similarly, Denmark this year decided to bring a prosecution under its blasphemy laws for the first time in 46 years.

Other European countries such as Italy, Austria, Poland and Turkey still have laws that are actively in use. In Greece, in 2014, Philippos Loizos was handed a ten-month suspended prison sentence for mocking up a picture of a Greek Orthodox patriarch, Elder Paisios, as a pasta dish. While in Russia, blasphemy laws were notoriously used to sentence the band Pussy Riot to hard labour after they performed in a Russian Orthodox Cathedral. This year they are also being used to prosecute a humanist blogger who filmed himself playing Pokémon Go in a church.

The most serious uses of blasphemy laws around the world are not in Europe, but in Islamic states, 13 of which punish blasphemy by death. These include Mohamed Cheikh Ould M’kheitir in Mauritania, charged with “insulting the prophet” for an article challenging slavery; humanist Ahmadreza Djalali, who worked as a Professor in Brussels but is now sentenced to death in his native Iran; and Saudi Arabia, which just last week sentenced Ahmad Al Shamri to death for “atheism”, while others such as Raif Badawi also sit on death row.

Sam Harris…

 


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