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What was I thinking?


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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 that accepted 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. They were real.


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 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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Nope. You're not the only one.


I'm having a very hard time too to understand why I could believe all those things, and still not believe in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. It's amazing how we can be so selective in what we believe. Whatever the Bible said, it was true, but whatever any other book said was false if the author wasn't a Christian, or of the same kind of Christian as me.


I think my pile of Bibles is just as high as yours. I have several of the same version, and then I have several in different langauges.


Now I see the Bible the same way as I see the Forgotten Realms books for D&D. Just stories and background stuff for you to live out a little fantasy. The mind seems to like these things - fantasy and dreaming away - and maybe that's why it's so hard to argue with people... they're addicted.

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Absolutely you are not alone. I know why I believed it - I was raised in a "Christian" home. I just don't understand why it took me so long to quit believing it. At about the age of 21 or 22 (over 25 years ago) I pretty much decided god did not exist. But back then, going to college in the Deep South bible belt, there were not exactly any resources to turn to. We had the Baptist Student Union, Wesleyan Foundation, Campus Crusade for Christ, but nothing along the lines of a Freethinkers club or Atheist club. Thank "god" for the internet!


About all those bibles and books.... still have my seven or eight bibles, but threw away the books. I thought about donating them to the library but then decided to not help spread the poison in them, so they are now decomposing in the local land fill.

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I went to Christian schools, a long time ago. In junior high and high school the school had a "Read the Bible" program. Basically, they put up a chart up with student's names and when you read a book in the Bible you got a star after your name under the corresponding book of the Bible. If you read the entire Bible that year, you received a trophy at the end of the year honors banquet. I recieved six trophies. I read the Bible cover to cover six times. What bothers me isn't that I believed all that crazy non-sense. What bothers me is that all the horrible atrocities committed in the Old Testament didn't faze me, didn't lead me to question Christianity, and I accepted them as being good and just.

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The only thing we really know about reality is that we think, we exist, and we perceive. As Descartes put it so frankly, "I think therefore I am." You know you exist because you have thought, but for all you know, you're a brain in a jar somewhere, and the Internet, Christianity, and the physical world as you know it are all just dreams - products of the random firing of synapses. You can't even know that this "dream" is your own - that your brain in a jar somewhere isn't controlled. You can only know what's inside your head.


This is the nature of humanity. We live inside our own heads. To understand reality, we project our own thoughts, feelings, and desires onto others. Our ancestors did not understand what caused the rumble of thunder or the change of seasons. They could only project themselves onto nature, and imagine that nature was being controlled by powerful beings with personalities and motives similar to their own. Over the years, this became religion. What were you thinking? The same things that humans have thought since we lived in caves.


Do you think that you would ever have become an atheist had you not been exposed to the idea of atheism? As a general rule, humans can only work with the information that we have. Growing up, the information that you had was from Christianity. Your psyche developed around that. You did eventually come across the idea of atheism, and at some point you were able to make a choice between belief systems. That's more than a lot of people ever do. Don't beat yourself up.

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