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Some Thoughts On Religious Belief

Brother Jeff

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Some thoughts I just shared with my friends on Facebook. Thought I would share them here too... Glory!


I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking. The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there's little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides. [Carl Sagan, 1996 in his article In the Valley of the Shadow Parade Magazine Also, Billions and Billions p. 215]


I totally agree with Carl Sagan here. Sure, there's a part of me that would LOVE to believe in a loving God who cares about every hair on our heads and heals us and offers us an awesome and eternal afterlife after we die (if we believe the right doctrines in the right way. Otherwise, we are in for a very unpleasant eternity.) I totally bought into Christianity for 15 years of my life. I firmly believed that the Bible was the inerrant, infallible Word of God because I was told that it was by people I trusted to tell me the truth at the time, though I had never read most of it. I prayed for hours every day. I went to church almost every time the doors were open. I sang solos. I participated in the praise and worship choir. I went to many Christian concerts that I thoroughly enjoyed. I watched the 700 Club all the time, and there was a time in my life when I would have enthusiastically voted for Pat Robertson if he had run for president. I watched TBN as well frequently, and for some reason, at the time the outrageous opulence of the sets and the constant pleas for more money never bothered me. (!) I once totally bought into creationism and believed that evolution was a lie straight from the pit of Hell. I read young-earth creationist arguments all the time, and for a while when I was young and knew basically nothing about evolutionary science and how science in general works, I thought it was seriously worth considering. Yikes...


Anyway, I understand it all. I know and understand religious thinking very well indeed. I understand the emotional appeal of religious belief, and I totally understand how strongly religious believers want it all to be true so badly. I had a dear religious friend tell me just earlier tonight that faith is comfortable to hold on to. And how well I do indeed understand that. I was there for years. But as comfortable as faith can be and as emotionally appealing as it can be to believe in God, the fact remains that there isn't a shred of evidence that he actually exists. It took me a while to come to terms with that when I was walking away from religious belief and getting FREE from it 14 years ago. I know how comfortable and appealing it is to believe in a loving God and in an awesome eternal heaven and that prayer works and that God heals the sick. But the harsh reality of the REAL WORLD is that none of that is actually true or real. It can be a very hard thing to come to terms with when you've bought into it for many years. But as was true of Carl Sagan, I would much rather deal with the world as it actually is than live in a comfortable fantasy world that has no discernible basis in reality.


I am frequently outspoken on the topic of religion, but it's not because I'm out to offend. It's because I CARE and I want to leave the world a better place because I was here, whether my existence continues after I die or not. I see how much damage religion has done to this world over the centuries. It's one of the greatest tragedies that has ever befallen mankind. So much willful ignorance because of religion. So much bloodshed. So much suffering. We might be traveling the stars now, if not for religion... But right now, today, religion is still tearing our world apart. Religious fundamentalists cause huge problems in this country, and in other countries all over the world. Iraq is having huge problems with Muslim fundamentalists right now, and people all over the world are suffering because of religious belief.


So sure, I understand the emotional appeal of it all. But I also see a much bigger picture, and I see what a huge problem in the world religion is and always has been. So I feel compelled to speak out. I may not be able to reach a lot of people and my opinions may occasionally cost me friends on Facebook or even in real life. But I can have my say, and hopefully do my part to make the world a better place. 


I once believed in God very strongly, but I couldn't be happier now to be FREE! There is no God and no heaven waiting for us after we die. But life RIGHT HERE and RIGHT NOW is AWESOME, and it is very much worth living!

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