A pair of essays about my having moved away from Christian practice in my late teens, both written when I was 18. Title shamelessly borrowed from Bertrand Russell. My spiritual beliefs are a bit more complicated than they were at the time of writing, but these arguments against the literal veracity of Christian doctrine still inform my non-belief in Christianity, at least interpreted in a literal, dogmatic fashion.
Written in April or May 2004. Minor edits in 2018.
I was raised as both a Catholic and an evangelical Christian. Even though I was outwardly very pious, I always harboured lingering doubts as regards the logic, the pertinence, and the validity of Christianity. I’d sit in church and wonder WHY women, homosexuals, and others were maligned so. I was a fierce feminist from a young age, so I always had difficulty accepting the sexist doctrines in the Bible. I also had difficulties reconciling evolution, which I learned in school, and creation, what was taught in the Bible. For some reason I always felt that gradual changes in species made a hell of a lot more sense than some ‘omnipotent’ creator creating humans out of dirt and breathing into them. Intelligent design, my ass. However, when I was twelve, my parents were compelled to become super-evangelicals. Down went my pop-star posters, into the dumpster went any CD that didn’t explicitly say ‘Jesus.’ I, spurred on by my parents, had a sudden compulsion to buy specifically CHRISTIAN books, CHRISTIAN music, and other such novelties. I would spend hours in my room reading the Bible, trying to make sense of the whole thing. But I knew that I had to remain a Christian, as I’d be bound to hell if I did not do so. In order to keep myself a Christian, I’d remind myself of the fate of unbelievers in Revelation. Although I still had doubts, I remained a devout Christian for four years, with occasional lapses. Nevertheless, my intentions were pure. However, when I was 16, I started reevaluating my philosophy. I stopped thinking about the Bible as infallible, and started truly examining its content. In fact, this was partly spurred on in English class, when we were discussing William Blake’s poem, ‘Tyger.’ We were discussing the poem’s metaphysical content. Somehow we started talking about God’s creating evil. That concept, the concept of God creating the capacity to create evil, planted a seed in my mind. How could the omnibenevolent God create evil? It would literally be IMPOSSIBLE for the deity. That was the beginning of my deconversion. As the months progressed, I started noticing more holes, more problems in the riddled ideological and religious mess known as Christianity. I noticed the inconsistencies in the account of Jesus’ resurrection. And I also realised something else. Christianity was based on one thing. Fear. In order to keep his docile sheep in the flock, God had to use one method. Fear. The FEAR of God is all over the Bible. And so many sermons I heard during that time seemed to mention hell.
What clinched the decision, however, was my continuing research of Christianity. I found out that the ‘Way, the Truth, and the Life’ was a mishmash of Mithraist, Hindu, and Egyptian religions. I also found out more about how fallible the Bible really is. The God that I thought I was serving no longer seemed to be benevolent, kind, and merciful. He was a capricious, back-stabbing, manipulative liar. Thank goodness I realised he was nonexistent, as well. When I arrived to the conclusion that there was no God, I felt relieved. I sensed that a burden was lifted from my shoulders.
Originally written in mid-to-late 2004; expanded in 2006 and lightly edited in 2018. A spiritual successor to the original essay. Warning: some of the language in this article, especially towards the end, is somewhat disablist.
I cannot adhere to Christian doctrine as it is contradictory, absurd, and against my moral beliefs, which were formed without the help of any sort of religion. It is simply full of holes and I cannot accept it morally, intellectually, spiritually, or emotionally. I don't believe that intelligent faith is impossible (i.e. faith in proven science or history), but I cannot accept the blind faith of Christianity, which is unfounded scientifically and historically. I have researched the events of the time of the writing of the gospel, and most sources I have read have noted that the Gospels and Epistles were written after Jesus' death and half the people in the Bible never existed or have scanty historical evidence for their existence. Also, I cannot accept said religion because of the competing claims of all religions. Everyone claims to have a monopoly on absolute truth: the Seventh-Day Adventists, the Baptists, the Catholics, the Hindus, the Sunni Muslims, the Anglicans, the Mormons...How can all of them be right? Of course they can't all be right. And since we cannot intuit truth, we do not know which one is right. And since the fundamentalist Christian God is a sadist who punishes people for not worshipping him even if they do not know about him, we are impelled to know what is right. But we cannot know what is right since we cannot tell what is right. Someone raised in Christian society would have a Christian conscience, someone raised in Islam would have a Muslim conscience, ad infinitum.
Even when 'God' speaks to people, he seems to say different things to people of different religions. How can that be if God only operates through Christianity? You do not hear of Hindus converting to Christianity unless there are missionaries present. Religion is something that is conditioned into children by others. We do not believe in God unless we are told there is a God. I know that I did not know about God from Day One and that I was told about him later. The gods of religious people tell them things that are consistent with their religion. Do fundamentalist Christians suddenly get messages from God telling them to follow Shiva or Ganesh instead? Of course not. It is inconsistent with their belief system. Religions effectively siphon out opposing ideas, whether they are correct or not. Christianity, at least from a literal interpretation of the Bible, is in support of several backward and unscientific beliefs about how the world is run. The stars are not in a solid firmament, the planets and sun do not orbit around the earth, and it takes two gametes to form an embryo, not merely sperm. And remember, you cannot dismiss any beliefs in the Bible (there is a verse in the Bible that says that), therefore, you cannot discard any of these incredible explanations for the universe in favour of something that has been scientifically observed. Fundamentalist Christians remind me of the Party in George Orwell's 1984 with their collective solipsism- nothing exists outside Christianity, and they can make the truth whatever they want it to be. They can discard old ideas for the purpose of science, and use other unscientific and intolerant ideas in order to subjugate others. They forget the atrocities of those who committed crimes in the name of God. I also cannot accept Christianity (at least from a literalist perspective) for its narrow-minded interpretation of social issues. God advocated killing others who did not adhere to his unjust law, yet he refers to himself as merciful and just. (This is a contradiction in itself.) Killing those who choose to follow an 'immoral' doctrine is neither merciful nor just. If God were 'merciful', then he would not drive Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. If God were just, he would not punish six billion people for the crimes of two people. Christians can rationalise this and say that 'God works in mysterious ways', but this is not a satisfactory answer. Why would the sacrifice of one man presumed to be perfect atonement for the 'sins' of six billion people? It cannot; it is as ineffective as killing animals for the atonement of wrongs done to the Almighty God, and it is even more barbaric as it is a human death. Also remember, God sacrificed his son. What loving parent would do such a thing? Most Christians (and all moral people) would vehemently oppose such an act if it were committed by a fellow human being, like the case of Andrea Yates.
And remember, God said that Jesus was also God. So God supposedly is still in heaven, but comes down to earth in human form and kills himself? This is not a filicide; this is a suicide. (Remember, God also forbids suicide because it is self-murder.) And what would the purpose be of a suicide for the atonement of the world's sins be if he rose from the dead? That defeats the purpose of the sacrifice. Also...remember, God was dead for three days. What could have happened while God was dead for three days? Nothing could have happened, since God was dead. No one can be alive and dead at the same time, unless you are Schrödinger's hypothetical cat. Jesus himself admitted that he was not God. He said that 'the father was greater than [he]’ and he called out to God when he was being crucified. If Jesus were God, why would he need to call out to himself? Jesus' apotheosis only happened after his death. In addition, another piece of information that shows that Jesus's being god and man at the same time is that the nature of God himself implies an omnipresence. By definition, God cannot be divided. However, if God was also Jesus, then his spirit was 1) everywhere as it usually was and 2) in Jesus Christ. But what would be the point of existing in Jesus Christ if he were everywhere already? And why would he need to sacrifice himself to himself in order to provide atonement for his sins? If he really were omnipotent, then he could simply go 'Humans are absolved.' No need to have a brutal sacrifice to demonstrate that.
Another concept that has caused me to reject Christianity is the nature of good and evil. If God is all-good, then why would he ever create the propensity to cause evil? It would be outside his nature, and being all-good would nullify his omnipotence. (Full power implies the ability to perform good and evil.) Lucifer (one of God's creations) would have never rebelled if evil did not exist. A Christian may say 'free will', but God would have to create evil in order to allow free will, and since God is supposedly omnibenevolent, that means that he cannot create evil at all and sin would not exist. Since God created everything and is omnipotent, the argument of free will is useless. The options have to have already existed to make free will work. Here is another quandary. God cannot be both omnipotent and omniscient. If one knows everything before it happens, one is powerless to change it. Also, if God were perfect from the beginning, why would he need to create the world? Was he bored? Remember, if he were perfect, all his needs would be satisfied, so he would not create the world out of boredom. Perfection implies a lack of needs. The reason why people want things is that they want to feel more complete than they already are. Even though God is supposed to be 'not man', he is actually quite anthropomorphic in that he has feelings that indicate imperfection.
Note that in this essay, I have never said that Christians were not intelligent. In my lifetime, I've seen idiotic atheists, and fairly intelligent Christians. The only sects of Christianity in which I have seen a marked deficiency in intelligence are the groups that are bent on a literal, fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible. It does not take a lack of intelligence to be wooed by the attractive prospect of Christianity, merely a desire for a better life that leads to a desire for spirituality. I have no personal problems against Christianity. Most of my personal dealings with individual Christians have been positive and productive and I have seen many good works come out of that faith. However, I have noticed that good people tend to do good works whether they are involved in Christianity or not, and people inclined to hurt others will hurt others regardless of faith. Religion is often shown in individuals as reflections of their own personalities, since that is invariably how the human mind works. We reflect ourselves on to our own faiths and creeds.
© Finn M Gardiner 2004, 2018. All rights reserved unless otherwise specified.