- December 5th, 2008
When your life changes in a major way, like when you completely reanalyze your belief system, some times you become so caught up in the aftermath that you loose track of the event. I felt so robbed and betrayed by the lie I believed, and the misguided people who spread it, that I lost track of what caused me to change my views. I know now all the reasons not to believe, but until recently I had really forgotten that key thing.
It's funny, I can argue against the logic of faith all day:
In I Samuel 15:2-3, God commands the genocide of the Amalek people. Not only does the Benevolent Creator command His people bring death to this nation, he expressly commands the murder of infants and children. Even the most devout follower should cringe, but it's often passed off as "acceptable for the time." Lets make this quite clear. Genocide is not acceptable in any time or place, under any circumstance. To argue otherwise would be to reject the most basic foundations of human morality (which is often what religion asks one to do). Even the most vaguely rational individual should realize that what this passage commands is an atrocity. At the very least one should be able to see that this is clearly not moral. But the main selling point of the book that contains this passage is it's ability to be a moral guide.
So here we find the paradox: the Bible is the highest moral guide, yet clearly it's morality is unreliable so the individual must filter it's advice through his or her own moral reasoning. But if the individual's morality is more accurate than the guide, what is the point of the guide? If you have a compass that randomly points the right way, so that you need to verify it against a more accurate compass... what's the point of the first compass? Yet some would argue that this Bible is primarily of God, yet is written by man and therefore is flawed so we must, ourselves, find the God in it. This could make sense, but how do we verify what is of God and what is not? If one thing could be wrong, don't we need to question *everything* to verify it's validity? What tools can we use? One would assume we'd use logic to guide us, but when we apply logic to the story of Jesus we find that the very core of this faith is broken. Here's what I mean.
An all powerful being could cleanse sin without the need to cause the horrible death of an innocent man (that is the very definition of the omnipotence God is supposed to posses), therefore the death of this 'savior' is either unrelated to the cleansing of sin, or God is not all powerful. This leaves three possible interpretations of the story of Jesus, all of which provide solid arguments against belief in Christianity.
1) God had another reason to torture your Jesus. Given His all powerful nature, we must therefore assume God is evil.
2) The story of Jesus is not "of God" and should be stricken from the Bible.
3) God is not all powerful. If God is not all powerful then God is not some special being, but simply a more powerful version of us. To a less advanced culture our technology rings of God, why would Christianity be right but they be wrong?
This logic clearly shows that, without a doubt, Christianity is a faith without value. But logic is not powerful enough to overcome the blindness. From within religion there is haze of fear to doubt. Religion itself is not driven by reason, but by pure emotion... or by something even deeper and more powerful that creates this emotion. Religion is driven by an instinctual fear that is so powerful it has sustained life for eons. It is an instinctual drive that predates logic, and even the faintest hints of understanding. Before Jesus, or Aristotle, or Lucy, before our mammalian ancestors, or even amphibians, walked on land, before all but the first clumps of cells, there was the will to live. Built in to us at the deepest level is the most powerful of all our drives, the desire to perpetuate our existence. Water, food, shelter, sex, these are not only the foundation, but they make up 3 of the 5 levels of Malsow's hierarchy. One could even go further and argue that esteem and actualization both represent a desire for the perpetuation of our memory and therefore ourselves. One could then further suggest that on some level the entire focus of any given human life is the struggle for survival followed by the quest for immortality. This is such a basic an overwhelming force that, on some level, it permeates every instant of life and guides every action.
This drive is so great that we would imagine ourselves, or the essence of ourselves, to be somehow immortal. This is the very pith and marrow of religion, all else is but butteressing. Christian Apologetics is only a structure built to silence the rational mind from screaming out the obvious: you only believe because you are afraid not to.
So then, how could logic even begin to influence something driven by the most powerful force in human existence? Logic cannot dispel such a mythology thorough outward parody. Nor will attacks on surrounding logic do any more than add epicycles to an already Ptolemaic model of faith. No, only a focused deconstruction at the root of belief is of any value.
For years now I've wondered, why did I wake up? What was it for me that was important enough to let go of the promise of life? What actually drove me to realize the fallacy, and accept the reality of death? It is complex.
I was entrenched in apologetics, defending my belief in God so much so that I actively pursued the arguments against it. But no matter the weight or value of the argument, none could penetrate the walls that imprisoned my rational self. A cognitive dissonance grinds at the rational mind entrapped by a promise too good to be true; there is a dark secret that the faithful are afraid to let themselves know. The promise of salvation is a gift that should not be accepted for selfish reasons, but the only reason pursue it is for the perpetuation of the self; to be Christ-like is to embrace the ultimate sacrifice, but to pursue eternal life as one's primary focus is the realm of the devil. I realize this may not be the universal perspective, but in my intense pursuit of the divine I came to this revelation:
1) To truly be saved one must strive to be Christ-like.
2) To be Christ-like is to be driven by complete selflessness, willing to sacrifice even one's soul for the good of others.
3) To be Christian is to accept this gift of eternal life.
4) But to seek eternal life, even through a moral life of sacrifice, is to be driven primarily by the selfish desire for life... and therefore, not to be Christ-like.
It was then I realized that even if I gave my life for the greater good I would only be doing so in order to avoid death. And then I realized that I had lived my life as a Christian out of fear of death. This fear had been pounded in to me again and again, but not with fire and brimstone. Fear came with the soft face of kindness. I was raised in faith, but when I became old enough to question is when the real pressure came. "Jesus," they said, "offers you a wonderful gift, all you need to do is take it." "Jesus," they said, "died to bring you life." "Jesus," they said, "loves you so much he offers you life." But from the outside I can see what they didn't say: if Jesus offers you life, the inverse is death. Follow or die. The promise of eternal life, is a veiled threat of eternal death. This doesn't take much to see, but a mind clouded with fear will choose blindness.
But the promise could not be fulfilled as long as I wished to pursue it, so it was worthless. So now this is now where I stand, realizing that I will die. I think I am more moral realizing that there is no forgiveness (but I still make HUGE mistakes). I know that salvation is found in the ideas I spread to others, and I can accept that. And even if I do nothing with my life, even if I'm completely forgotten, I know I have touched at least one person and the effects of that will be felt forever. So now that I have no God, and no hope of immortality, I am finally at peace.
Without this God, without this pursuit of the unattainable, I have felt the divine. I have glimpsed the face of God in numbers. I have tasted perfection in code. Seeking to make myself a better tool to serve humanity (so that I might be remembered) I have had greater epiphanies, more intense spiritual awakenings, than ever when I followed the path of God. And you know.... there are times I am so amazed by the beauty of everything that I just don't care about mortality. In seeking understanding I have become, if only for a brief instant, actually enlightened. And honestly, to Know is greater than any other experience I've ever found, and I would trade all the promised immortality for just a second of true understanding.
"Fear? If I have gained anything by damning myself, it is that I no longer have anything to fear." -- Jean-Paul Sartre
I stole that quote from google, but I agree. And now I sound smarter than I am.