My son told me he’s an atheist (part 7) – Conclusion

open-doorIn early 2014, I finally and completely let it all go. I left the faith. The Biblical story was finally broken for me.

It was not something I rushed into. My abandonment of faith was an arduous process of slowly backing away. I’ve heard others refer to it as “death by a thousand cuts”. That’s a good way to put it. Someone else has said that religion is like dreaming: you think you’re awake until you wake up. “You know you thought you knew, but now you know you know.”

During the final stages of my trek, it was often on my mind that if I was wrong the consequences could be eternal damnation. The fear of hell and the loss of heaven kept me in chains, which has always been the intent of those religious doctrines: ultimate control. It keeps people in bondage by offering the most tantalizing thing imaginable (eternal life with a perfect body) while also offering the most extreme punishment the human mind could conceive (anguishing fiery torment that never ends).

breaking-the-spell-dennettI have often wished that I could point to one thing and say, “this really sealed it for me”, but I can’t. What I know for sure is that the rationalizations I had been making for Christianity were overwhelmed by the scientific evidence about our cosmos, combined with the enormous number of issues with the Bible as a supposedly inspired, inerrant book.

I remember seeing a book by Daniel Dennett called Breaking the Spell a few years ago, and that book title made me snarl. But now, that’s how I felt. The “spell was broken” in my mind. The world now made a lot more sense without the blinding fog of religion.

Parents often say that their children are smarter than they are. I am glad that my oldest son broke free of religion, and I am grateful that his courage to do so helped me toward the door of freedom from an oppressive and tyrannical (albeit man-made) god. At this point of time in writing this, I still struggle with the various labels and I struggle with giving myself a label. Jerry DeWitt puts it in an interesting way when he says of himself:

Skepticism is my nature; free thought is my methodology; agnosticism is my conclusion, and atheism is my opinion. Humanitarianism is my motivation.

happy-placeIf you wonder, “am I happy now?” the answer is a resounding yes. And I’m still the same person at heart. People still know me as someone who is patient, kind, and helpful. I didn’t lose my faith and then go rape, pillage and murder people. That’s a silly thought that some have about those who stop believing in the god of the Bible. I was fairly happy as a Christian, but I am far happier now as someone who has embraced reason, truth, and reality.

Many people look down on those of us who remained trapped in the delusion for such a long time. As more time goes by, I have asked myself why I couldn’t have broken the spell sooner. But I do understand now how our religious books likely came into existence. Religions have evolved over time and they continue to do so. The book I mentioned earlier, Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell – Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, does a good job of showing how our various religions have likely evolved because as a primitive species, we looked for answers behind every sudden sound, flash of light, or other unexplained phenomenon. As we came to understand our world through science, we no longer had to blame an invisible ghost for the things we didn’t understand. And just like others before us who once believed in Zeus or Apollo, they eventually put away their beliefs in their man-made gods.

sacrifice memeSo in the end, I saw the Bible for what it was: a repulsive collection of writings by tribal people which gave them imaginary license to kill other tribes; to kill everyone who worked on the Sabbath; to kill everyone who did not believe in their god; to kill anyone who cursed father or mother; to stone everyone who committed adultery; and to kill anyone who happened to be Homosexual. The Bible is also a book that: endorsed slavery (including the beating of slaves); endorsed genocide; endorsed sexism, and even endorsed self-mutilation (Matt 18:7-9). The Bible is a repulsive book that no longer has a place in a modern civilized society.

The Bible starts with Adam & Eve and how sin entered into the world. The problem of “sin” is a central theme, and the Bible attempts to conclude the story with the god-man being killed on a cross to solve the sin problem. The gist of the story would be that God, who is omniscient, says: “I told you not to eat from the tree. You didn’t do what I told you to do even though I knew you were not going to. So now, take my son and kill him so that I can save you from what I will do to you for doing what I already knew you were going to do.” Or put in a simpler way, God sacrificed himself, to himself, to save us from himself. It’s truly ridiculous.

That’s my story. If you have thoughts or comments to share, please feel free to do so.

If you would still like further thoughts on the topic, the following list came from many of my personal notes that I compiled for myself:

  • From a historical perspective, religion has been one of the most destructive and harmful ideologies to mankind. Countless millions have died or been murdered in the name of religion (the crusades; the inquisitions; witch hunts; holy wars, jihad, etc.). People hate each other merely for their religious differences. Many have committed suicide because of the extreme intolerance and judgmental attitudes of believers. Has Christianity also helped those in need and in poverty too? Yes, absolutely it has (which is wonderful). But that doesn’t negate the incredible harm that has been done in the name of religion, nor does it contradict the fact that many non-believers also help those in need.

  • Most people inherit the religious beliefs of their parents or family members. It’s rare for someone to embrace a religion that they were not brought up in, and the religions of the world are very contradictory of each other. Each branch of faith is convinced their truth is the correct truth. They can’t all be correct. But they can all be wrong.

  • Mankind has worshiped a long list of gods in the past, which includes Zeus, Hermes, Poseidon, Athena, Ares and Apollo. No one believes in those gods anymore. We are all atheists toward them. Today’s modern atheist just adds one more to the list: Yahweh or Allah.

  • “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” (Arthur Clarke). Our understanding of the universe is still small, and it’s likely that what seems like magic now will be better understood in the future.
  • When I consider the story of the flood in Genesis, it is incredibly implausible and hideous. It’s the uplifting story of God who massacres every living thing on the planet, which includes women and children as well as all of the innocent animals. It’s also implausible for several reasons, which includes:

    • No one before Noah had ever built a boat before nor even seen a boat before Noah’s time. In contrast, true master shipbuilders who had attempted to build a ship similar in size with wood, failed. Also, the ark had to stay afloat for a very long time (1 year), and carry 1,000s of animals plus food and drinking water. This is very implausible. Also see this.

    • Very old trees have been found that exceed 5,000 and 6,000 years in age. The flood, which the story indicates occurred 4,300 years ago, left the planet under water for a full year, which would have killed all trees, animals and plant life. But yet, we have trees in existence that are older than 4,300 years.

    • Assuming the ark came to rest on Mount Ararat (as is usually thought), how did all of those animals then travel to our various continents (without a bridge)? Perhaps they built their own boats, then collected enough food and fresh water for the trip, and traveled to the various continents to repopulate. Um, no. That’s just craziness. The fossil record clearly rejects the myth as well. One small example: kangaroos. Kangaroo fossils are found in Australia but no fossils for these animals have been found elsewhere.

    • The grand canyon is a marvelous testament to the fossil record which contradicts the view that Noah’s flood created the fossil record. The layers of fossils that are found reveal that this record was created over a very long period of time – – not by one big flood.

    • Answers in Genesis says that the flood likely happened about 4300-4400 years ago. Which means that we have to believe the incredible diversity of humans (e.g., Eskimos, Native Americans, South Americans, Scandinavian, African, Middle Eastern, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Aboriginals, etc.) evolved over a faint 4400 years. That’s less than 100 generations, and it’s just not realistic. It is insane really. We also have a tremendous fossil record of human skulls that show a very slow evolution in structure and shape. The evidence is overwhelming.

      races-of-People-thumbnail

  • Even with all of the advances of science that we have today, we still have no actual evidence for a spirit world or an afterlife, nor any scientific evidence that God exists.

  • In regard to prayer, Double-blind tests of the effectiveness of prayer for those in medical need also proved to be the same as a placebo, except that those who knew they were being prayed for often fared worse. Consider too that God never heals amputees.

  • There’s no plausible explanation about the dinosaurs from a Biblical viewpoint. Fossil evidence shows they existed long long ago, and it also shows that many dinosaurs had teeth and jaw structures designed for meat-eating but Genesis says the animals were all plant eaters until after the flood. The Bible is also devoid of information about dinosaurs, save for one tiny reference in Job that is more likely to be about large crocodiles. And yet the typical fundamentalist view is that the dinosaurs died at the flood. It doesn’t fit. At all.

  • The creation account in Genesis 1 conflicts with the order of events that are known to science. In the Bible, the earth is created before light and stars; birds and whales before reptiles and insects; and flowering plants before any animals. The order of events known from science is just the opposite.

  • A study of thousands of people about human sexuality (masturbation, heavy petting, oral sex, intercourse) finds that there is no difference between the secular population vs. Christians or other religious people. In other words, even though religion forbids lust, fornication, adultery, etc., all humans engage in those activities to the same degree. In fact, protestants are even more likely to view porn even though they cite guilt as significant. And perhaps, the taboo or naughtiness of it contributes to the appeal. One obvious conclusion to this is that religion is ineffective.

  • Over 90% of the species that have ever existed, are extinct and gone. Only about 2% of the species that have existed, still exist. That is not evidence for intelligent design. That’s evidence for natural selection. Consider too that in the study of life on our planet, one would have to conclude that God must really love beetles since there are over 350,000 different species of them.

If you enjoy a more visual style of content, I highly recommend the YouTube user named 43Alley.

43-alley-youtube

62 thoughts on “My son told me he’s an atheist (part 7) – Conclusion

  1. This post was the same thing I’ve been reading in your last 6. Nevertheless, I’ve posted lengthy comments so far solving issues in your previous posts that you’ve come by, that I myself have had to deal with. The beginning of my journey to studying the Bible and Christianity and everything around it, as you have, began three and a half years ago. Since then, I’ve spent entire days reading, reading reading, as well as watching hours of lectures, videos, and debates on these issues. I’ve come to the conclusion that my faith is justified and there is no valid challenge to Christianity, and indeed there are even good reasons to believe it is true.

    So, this is my challenge to you. Prove me wrong. Or ask me to prove myself right. By the end of this, I want to pick apart every single reason you have for disbelieving in the following; that Christianity is the truth and that Jesus died for our sins on the cross and subsequently rose from the dead. We can take this one issue at a time — slavery, sexism, genocide, free will, evidence (or lack thereof), etc, etc, etc. Whether or not you take up my challenge is up to you. This challenge also goes to anyone else who think they can accomplish it.

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