By Dave, the WM
The longer I'm out of Christianity, the more difficult it becomes to comprehend how I could have ever accepted such a twisted view of reality -- one that promotes flying chariots; floating ax heads; talking bushes, snakes and donkeys; magic refilling urns; water walking; zombies; a worldwide flood; giants; raving, naked prophets; fire falling from heaven from time to time; cruel plagues; and life changing visions that resemble the descriptions of bad LSD trips.
This is the reality one must accept as a Christian: There is an invisible war going on between the sovereign ruler of the universe and one of His former minions. These "guys" are waging a battle over the eternal souls of the upright-walking, hairless monkeys living on tiny planet circling a particularly unimportant star on the outskirts of a small and ordinary galaxy. The prize? If the monkeys have the correct thoughts in their heads (Believe in Jesus, whatever that really means) at the time they expire, the Big Guy gets to populate his domain with them. If the bald simians don't have the correct thoughts in their heads (Don't believe in Jesus) at the moment they croak, it's everlasting barbecue time with minion boy. And if the game is all about who gets the most schmucks to move in, El Shaddai is in trouble.
What lunatic tendency in my head made this scenario appear sensible to me? There is nothing my five senses have experienced that indicates or that in any way suggests that such nonsense has even the slightest basis in reality. Yet, for some incomprehensible reason, I frittered away years and years studying this baloney in the company of drooling dimwits who, like me, were swallowing every incoherent ranting of some pulpited moron.
But that's not the worst of it. I also invested a fortune in time and resources convincing others that this veil of tears is only an illusion -- that reality is filled with magical ponderous beings brandishing swords, wings, and horns.
Of course I know part of the reason I was so sure of myself. Bible stories had been read to me since infancy. Although my parents weren't particularly religious, they didn't teach me the stories were just stories. Those tales were real history!
When I was a Christian, no matter how many times I re-read the bizarre stories, I never let it enter my mind that it was all myth -- all fabrications -– all retarded. I simply believed it was all true because "God said it, He can do anything, I believe it, and that settles it."
Yeah, making flying chariots and turning water to blood and stoking an eternal fire to torture billions of near-apes are such inspirational and inventive activities for the Sovereign Lord of All.
It's so completely obvious to me, now, that everything in the Bible -– everything -– is primitive philosophizing about life, all wrapped up in supernatural yarns and myth. Some stories were written to provide an explanation for what seemed incomprehensible mysteries. Some were written to teach children various practical moral lessons. Some were crafted by raving madmen. Some are pure political propaganda. Some of the stuff was just made up, the result of passionate, misdirected zeal.
I still own a few dozen English Bibles, from Tyndale's and the old Geneva, through a few editions of the KJV, to nearly every modern translation out there. Stacked up, one on another, the reach my nose. My basement walls are lined with commentary and the theological perusing of wordy authors from numerous backgrounds and perspectives. It gives me a headache to think how many convoluted ideas I crammed into my head -- how many synapses were lit up for nothing.
Am I the only one who looks in the mirror from time to time to say, "What were you thinking?" Am I the only one who wonders if the human capacity to tenaciously and devotedly embrace, believe, and even die for fantastic imaginary beings might indicate that all of us are potentially just a step or two away from straight jackets?
Am I the only one?
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Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)