I am a christian-turned-atheist who hasn't read the bible. I've been told a few times that the answers to my questions about religion are in the bible, and I would think differently if I have read the bible. So the point of this is to record my thoughts on the bible as I read it, and prove or disprove this theory in a sort of Mythbusters-esque way. From time to time I will comment on other things pertaining to religion or atheism that is unrelated to the bible as well. This journal is primarily for my friends and family, but anybody is welcome to read it. Reading Schedule List of tags, to look for posts from a particular book
I am reading the Message, alongside the Skeptic's Annotated Bible, so some of the stuff I say will be from the SAB, but most of the stuff I read on the SAB I take with a grain of salt, so it is still mostly my opinion. Some additional reading and watching: -The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins (or anything by him) -Carl Sagan's 'Cosmos', or anything from Carl Sagan (spend some time looking him up on youtube) -Penn and Teller's 'Bullshit' (excuse my french) -"The God Who Wasn't There" -Pharyngula -wolfbiblemoon, who has been doing a similar thing for awhile, and who I am borrowing my reading schedule from -Iron Chariots Wiki (provides information on apologetics and counter-apologetics) -Talk Origins (explores the controversy between evolution and creation) -The LOLcat Bible Translation Project (for downtime)
I describe reading the bible as a 'journey', but I haven't really described the beginning of this journey. I think it's an important thing for people who read this journal to know, so they can better understand where I am coming from.
I was born and raised in a loving religious family in 1989. I don't remember not being christian as a child, but I am told I was around two when it was made 'official' by accepting Jesus into my heart. I am not angry at my parents for raising me this way, but as an adult I am not exactly okay with children making a decision like this when they aren't even old enough to know whether Santa Claus is real or not. As a child I had a lot of questions. I was learning things in school. A few things I learned in school conflicted with the things I had learned in Sunday school. I remembered learning about dinosaurs, and how they existed millions of years before humans did, but the bible said that the earth and everything on it was created in a span of seven days. This was a major point that bothered me for most of my christian life. I asked a lot of people about it, and heard so many different answers. I'd like to think that this is sort of the chip in the glass that eventually lead to my skepticism, but I continued believing for many more years. I was satisfied with thinking that I would be able to ask god this question in person when I died. Death terrified me. I have no doubt in my mind that I only believed in god because I was afraid of hell. I remember being so afraid, I literally did not lie to anyone over a span of a few years. I still don't consider myself much of a liar, but for completely different reasons. We attended a big church during my pre-teen years. I never really felt accepted until I had briefly brought up the topic of baptism. Suddenly all the pastors were interested in who I was. I thought this was the key. I was promised happiness and acceptance, but as soon as I was lifted out of that water, everything went back to how it was before. Nothing changed. When I was 15 I started experiencing severe stomach pains. By this time I was having some serious doubts about christianity, but I still held on. I went to see the doctor who took some tests. I believed that whatever was ailing me, god would help me get through it. I was diagnosed with lupus, and it wasn't going to get better no matter how much I prayed to god. I didn't quite understand what lupus was yet. I did minimal research, but I still wasn't exactly sure. All I knew was that I was in pain, and there wasn't a cure for lupus. The pain in my stomach had subsided, but I was now experiencing severe arthritic pain in my knee. It was around this point I became agnostic for a short period of time. I didn't deny the existence of some sort of higher power, but I definitely didn't believe in the christian god anymore. Sometimes I did the whole self-pity "why me" thing, but sometimes I thought about how a lot of people had it worse off than I did, and I hurting pretty bad. It was easier to say 'bad things happen to good people sometimes' than it was to say 'god works in mysterious ways'. I always felt like part of a persecuted minority being a christian. I was surrounded by people who poked fun at religion. It was only when I became an atheist that I realized what it was like to be part of an actual minority. It seemed like everyone was religious, even the people who poked fun at it. There were the die hard christians on one end of the spectrum, then there were the people who were conveniently religious on easter and on christmas, who claimed to believe in god but didn't really practice, and there were also other people who practiced other religions too. And then there was me, completely off the spectrum of religion. Discussing religion with anyone sort of made me a social pariah, so I remained mostly silent. I should mention that before I was diagnosed with lupus, I was unofficially incorrectly diagnosed with A.D.D. and was put on ritalin, then eventually concerta. My family had moved to a different town at this time. I was a teenager with many friends at this point, so it was a pretty big deal. I began experiencing symptoms of depression, and I think it was caused by being on medication for something I didn't have, mixed with the realization of my mortality because of my diagnosis of lupus, mixed with the big move, mixed with your average teenager's teen angst (Its funny that you don't realize until you are an adult that everyone was thinking the same thing you were when you were a teen). I don't really think I was depressed, just going through a rough time. With these symptoms came more misdiagnosis and more meds. Was my sadness related to my disbelief in god? Was god punishing me for turning my back on him? I was more than willing to accept god again, but I needed to know for sure that he existed. This is when I began researching. I remained a bit silent about it. I continued researching as I started college. When I graduated from high school, I became virtually friendless. I had a few friends, but in general, peoples' opinions began to matter less to me. I was beginning to understand the evils of religion, not just christianity, but ALL religion. I was a bit cautious about speaking out about it because I didn't want to be considered one of 'those atheists', but eventually I couldn't take it because of my moral standpoint. It's like not doing anything about the state of the world's ecosystem in fear of being viewed as one of 'those hippies' or something. It was at this point that I admitted that I was fully an atheist, and I felt atheism needed a voice. I was happier. I think it's funny, I searched for god to try to find happiness, but found the happiness I was looking for in denying god. I realized that I am the only one who has control of my life, and this is the only life I've got. I'm happier now, and I'm no longer afraid of dying. I know how people feel when someone like me comes along and tells them the reasons I believe god does not exist. They usually think, “yeah right, that’s impossible” or maybe they think “I don’t care what she says, I know how I feel and that’s all that matters”. The truth is, I understand as most atheists do, exactly why we all choose to believe in god. Life is not easy, it's difficult, and its scary and its lonely. Nobody wants to think we’re alone, nobody wants unanswered questions, nobody wants to think death is the end. And in tough times it comforts us to think somebody is looking out for us. For most of us the comfort that faith gives us is worth the risk of being wrong and faced with the frightening alternative. But just like children eventually must let go of their belief in magic or fairies or Santa Clause, eventually we all reach a certain maturity level to look at things rationally. And as cold as it may seem at first, we all have to come to grips with the truth; we are alone on this planet. There is no plan for us. And death when stripped down to the skin is nothing but tragedy. Maybe you're not ready to admit that yet, maybe none of us really are. But it takes a certain kind of maturity to look at a grave and admit that when people go, they never come back. But when we take that step and begin to understand how things truly are, you gain the ability to make them better. In the same way that we learn to wear sunscreen we can prevent sunburn. When we realize the truth, we can feed the hungry instead of praying for the supernatural to do it. We can heal the sick, we can be there for each other when we’re afraid, we can share our own futures, we can explore, and discover truth. We can touch the heavens and see the vast and beautiful universe and we can bring world peace for ourselves. Its not easy, its never easy. I’m not saying its easy, I’m saying its worth it.
"Strange is our situation here on Earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that man is here for the sake of other man - above all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness depends." -Albert Einstein