Time to Get Serious

I don’t want to get too heavy here, but if a guy had some thoughts on God, church, and the afterlife that he wanted to share, this seems like it would be a good forum for ’em. There won’t be any dick jokes, so if you want to skip this post, I won’t be offended.

It’s only in the last couple years that I’ve come to doubt the existence of a God. It seems such a profoundly absurd concept now that it’s hard for me to imagine that I believed my whole life until now. I have a Catholic background, so I can speak only from a Christian perspective.

  1. I used to be able to reconcile the concepts of evolution and a creator-God. So creation didn’t happen in 7 days like Genesis recounts, but why couldn’t God have put the whole evolutionary process in motion? My problem starts when I consider the human “soul”. If humans have souls (and animals do not as the church teaches), then as we evolved from single-cell organisms, who had the first soul? Evolution is such a long process that there’s not one moment I can point to and say, oh, that was the first “human” with a soul.

  2. The belief in Jesus Christ as savior of humanity. In the Old Testament, humanity is terrible to each other… wars, killing, rape, betrayal. The atrocities are rampant throughout the OT. Now, in the 2,000 years since Jesus’s time on earth, are we any better? We are still awful to each other. The wars, the violence, the abuses of power. I’m not saying there aren’t great things about humanity. There’s lots of love in the world too, and generosity, and compassion and beauty. What I’m saying is that humanity doesn’t look that different after Christ “saved” the world than it did before. If God sent HIS ONLY SON, a divine being to the world, it seems to me that it would have made a bigger difference than it did.

  3. These are not emotional arguments. This is not a wringing of the hands, saying Oh how could God allow these terrible things to happen in the world. It’s an intellectual argument. It doesn’t make logical sense to me that a perfect, all-loving God would preside over a world full of random acts, good and bad.

  4. Faith is a virtue. Why? The definition of faith is believing something without any evidence for it. Why is that considered a virtue? If I told you I believed in the Tooth Fairy and you said “Why?”, I say because I have FAITH, you would think I’m crazy. I have found it to be no less absurd for me to believe in a God for which I have no more evidence than I have for the tooth fairy.

  5. One of the upsides of this revelation is the relief of a lot of nagging guilt. I never felt like I was praying enough, or thanking God enough. Praying to God always felt like something I would never be good enough at, and was a source of guilt for me. And the “sin” of “impure thoughts”… really? Just thinking something? It’s nice to know that no divine being is actually in my head judging my thoughts.

  6. Downside? The lack of an afterlife. It did always seem appealing that at the end all would be revealed and we would live eternally in perfect happiness, reunited with all deceased loved ones. I would really LIKE to believe in a heaven. But I just can’t, again just like I can’t just believe in the tooth fairy.

  7. Atheism. Atheism is not a religion. Atheism is not a set of beliefs. Atheists are not a community of people. Atheists are individuals who are all over the map (politically, socially, geographically) who just happen to share one characteristic, the lack of belief in a God. Stereotypes about atheists are as pointless as stereotypes about any other group of people tend to be. Not believing in God does not make me dark or depressed. Quite the contrary, it makes me appreciate humanity that much more.

There’s more, and I might do a follow-up post later. For those who did read this, I’d love to read your comments (in agreement, in opposition, or anything in between).

As I re-read this I notice that I capitalized God every time. Old habits die hard, I guess.

  • Monty

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25 thoughts on “Time to Get Serious

  1. It seems like as you get older people either lose or gain faith in God. I’ve found more faith, due to a lot of reasons. Getting married, having kids, watching my dad beat leukemia, etc. I went to Catholic school and never left the faith, just became lapsed. Thanks to going back to church, some very devout Catholic friends, and reading some great Catholic writes my faith in God has grown. Don’t worry I’m not ready to become a priest, I’ll still make off color jokes and bash Peter King. Like I said I believe in God and what the Catholic church teaches, but I’m not a very good Catholic.

    Whatever gives you peace and gets through the day.

    Anyway, I love that no one in the comments bashed religion and treated everyone with respect here.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t what is out there and I can’t be for certain that there is one all powerful being. It’s too hard to grasp that idea when there are multiple documented religions that all pray to/worship different, if not similar, deities. For what it is worth, I wasn’t a churchgoer as a child and I have only been to a handful of services as an adult.

    Like

  3. I’ll try to be quick but probably not.
    I was about 8 years old and I had a little brother who was two.
    One day he said, mommy my head hurts. Parents take him to the hospital and he is referred to a specialist.
    He had brain cancer.
    My parents decided that we needed to go back to church and use the power of prayer to help pull him through.
    I prayed my little ass off. I had rug burns on my knees from praying. I accepted Jesus as my lord and savior.
    My brother was dead less than two months later.
    Even at my early age I could recognize that this was bullshit.
    What higher plan, what reasonable explanation could justify taking a two year old boy before his life even had a chance to begin?
    I had (still have) three older brothers and I led the rebellion at 8 years old.
    To this day, apart from a couple of weddings and way too many funerals I refuse to believe.
    Besides football is played on Sunday.

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    1. I’m sorry, Yeah Right. Thank you for sharing.

      In many ways it’s more comforting to me to know that terrible tragedies like this are just random and there’s no real higher plan. For me, that’s easier than the “part of God’s plan, He works in mysterious ways, humans can’t comprehend God’s ways” line of thought.

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  4. All right. I’m back from work, I’ve had dinner, and I can respond to this properly.

    I figured out I was not Christian any longer by reading The Tao of Pooh right around the time I was confirmed as a Presbyterian in my teenage years. Quite the silly thing to have change my brain around, but what it basically did for me was show me that many things I was thinking and observing at the time were very much aligned with Taoism, which just made me realize that I just wasn’t a dedicated Christian. I didn’t end up a dedicated Taoist–or beatnik, or Zen buddhist, or agnostic, or whatever–but it just served as a first step to get out and explore on my own rather than listen to some guy at the head of some hierarchy surrounded by rituals.

    Now twenty or so years after that, I’ve altered my thinking quite a bit, and here’s where I’m at: I don’t really think about either spirituality or religion. It’s not that I think either is inherently bad–though Cuntler had good points on that matter previously (sigh; that felt weird to type)–but that it just doesn’t matter to me (it may matter to others and I get that). There’s just SO MUCH in THIS world that we don’t know, that we’re still learning, that we do to ourselves, that is right in front of us and that WE cause and that WE can solve, it just feels useless to me to really worry about anything else. This also goes along with the dangers that beliefs can bring; that is, when I accept something as an unquestioned default, I create a blind spot to potential harmful behaviors to myself and others, or perhaps getting stuck in a rut somewhere. This doesn’t matter if it’s religious in nature or not; dogma is dogma and whether it’s God or gluten or Six Sigma or Mercury in retrograde or YOLO it can still do damage. Some of this came from an article Penn Teller wrote a few years ago for NPR’s This I Believe segment, titled “I Believe There Is No God.” It can apply to more than just religion, though–just focus on this world, because right now, it’s the only one we have.

    However, there are still so many lessons to learn from the various holy books, theologians, philosophers, and even Cuntler (well, okay, that’s stretching it). Many of those books are amazing historical records and capture all the early stories that were handed down generation to generation–one of the best classes I had in college was a class on the bible taught by a holy land archeologist. Learning about what those actual tribes of people were doing at those times and why certain things were written–and included or not included throughout the various editions–was very illuminating. How these societies emerged and grew, any of them, is our story in one way or another. Many of the lessons kept people alive and together and growing, and are still important today.

    In fact, my grandfather was a Mennonite minister. My mom grew up in many different poor Mennonite communities as they moved from place to place as needed by the church. He didn’t draw a salary and they lived off of the care and grace of those communities. I have friends involved or employed in the social justice side (Jesuits) of Catholicism that work to lift up the poor and unfortunate in our communities. These are things directly out of the bible, and I wish these were the lessons spread around rather than those of exclusion and control.

    Which leads me to my last point: religions are neither the cause nor the salvation of religious assholes. Assholes are assholes, whether they’re religious or not. The same dickbags and -baguettes who would bully you in youth group are the fucktard atheists who only care about being RIGHT over a few pints of beers and will get belligerent regardless of if you have a point or not. Religion or dogma or philosophy, like so many things, are just surface coverings made of words and costuming, but when stripped down to actions, to a more basic nature–money and power, perhaps–it’s all the same no matter the stage.

    To me, we are all just so limited and, well, dumb as individuals, and to even think I have the answers is pure hubris. I can’t even conceive of a great many things in this world, solar system, universe, that most certainly EXIST, that to think that I could comprehend anything that is greater than all this is just foolish. And that, to me, is somehow comforting.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree that the holy books are fascinating when studied as historical artifacts and not as dogma.
      I went to a Jesuit high school… still have a soft spot in my heart for that order.
      Also agree that assholes are going to be assholes, whether it’s about religion or anything else.
      Finally, also agree that it is unsettling to acknowledge when Cuntler makes a good point.

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  5. Whoa, serious. I dig it.

    I definitely believe in a God, but I’m much less sure of what form that God takes. I guess if I had to put a label on it I’d be a Deist. I think there is a benevolent God who takes a hands-off approach for the most part. I can’t really pinpoint WHY I believe in God other than to say that in contrast to most people who use logic to solve this problem, Occam’s Razor and basic reasoning lead me to believe that a God is more likely than not. We can talk about the prime mover or the god of the gaps all day, but my question is, if there isn’t a God, then where did everything come from? I find it more logical that there is an intelligence behind the universe than that everything just flashed into being like some kind of macro spontaneous generation. This is part of the value of theology, I think…science answers “what” questions very well, but theology is better at “why” questions. I think answering theological questions with a scientific method is akin to measuring the temperature with a ruler. The only thing that irks me about some more aggressive atheists is that they can’t explain the origin of the universe, yet seem pretty confident that it’s not because of a God. I think that reasoning lacks rigor and shows the same petty bias that characterizes many religious people.

    I have a Catholic background too (very Catholic in fact, my aunt is a nun.) I don’t subscribe to all the beliefs of Catholicism, but on the rare occasion I feel the urge to be spiritual, that’s where I feel comfortable. I think that’s fine, too. I think any religion based on love and mercy is a path to God, or even no specific religion at all as long as you’re sincere and do your best. I am very skeptical of any specific religion, but I think religion in general has value because of its good works. All the larger arguments about the veracity of religion are like white noise to me compared to the work that priests, nuns, and committed laity do on the ground to improve people’s lives. If getting all that good stuff means you put up with people mocking you for being a sheep, so be it, that’s the cost of doing business. Like any other human endeavor, religion isn’t perfect – far from it. But I think a lot of the atrocities committed in its name are things that reside in human nature and would find another cause to attach themselves to in the absence of religion. I don’t find it logical to blame God for acts committed by fallible humans in his name or use those acts as evidence in the case against his existence.

    Finally, I have a lot of problems with people who say you won’t go to heaven unless you go to this church, say this prayer, avoid those foods. Jesus wasn’t hung up on things like that, and of all the things God is said to be, I find the most offensive to be “bureaucrat”.

    I think reads much more pro-religion than I intend it to, because I have sincere doubt. But I also wouldn’t trust any religious person that didn’t.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I, too, am agnostic. I have no idea what controls everything, and I have never been able to wrap my head around the concept of universe being infinite (this is where people that have it figured out with absolute certainty insert some Neil DeGrasse Tyson clip that is supposed to perfectly clarify all existence). Like when people say the universe is expanding, into what is it expanding? Science is amazing but what underlies it all? Probably not an all-powerful sky monster, but I have no clue.

    My thoughts on religion is that it is a man-made social construct used as a way to control the behavior of the masses based in divine retribution for good acts and bad acts. That can and has been a good and bad thing. The whole be nice to each other and help each other out part of it is pretty good and has helped billions, in the same way that the whole extremist I’ll kill you if you don’t believe has harmed billions.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. The way I look at it, if God didn’t want you to have them, he wouldn’t put them in your head.

        To that end,

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  7. Hey, this period of introspection happens to us all. I was about 11 or so when I pondered the fact that I could comprehend neither eternity nor life ceasing to exist. Went like 72 hours without a sleep cycle before I said “fuck it, some shit you are just smart enough to wonder about but too stupid to understand.”

    With the larger God question, I finally settled on something that makes sense for me. Maybe there is a God, maybe there isn’t. If there is, I like to think He or She is kind and benevolent, and understands what is in our hearts. We try our best to be decent people, within what belief systems we have. Doesn’t matter what branch of religion we choose, or if we believe at all. Because God is cool, and understands life is confusing and hard.

    If the alternatives are true, then who the fuck cares? You’ll just blink into dust, or if God’s a stickler asshole, what chance did you ever really have to thread the needle and do everything JUST RIGHT anyway?

    Also, I think Buddhists make a lot of sense in how they think about the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “I said, “Hotshot tell me this, which religion is the truest?”
      He said, “They’re all about the same.
      Buddha was not a Christian, but Jesus woulda made a good Buddhist”
      –Ray Wylie Hubbard, Conversation With the Devil

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  8. I’ll have a proper response later as I can’t really respond in depth now, but I just want to say I read this, and WELCOME TO YOUR WOOOOOOOORLD OF TOMORROW!

    Also, per your username, you are now obligated to play Losing My Religion.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m agnostic (though I do firmly believe in ghosts, strangely) but with regards to evolution’s relationship to the question of a soul, there’s a science fiction book I read a number of years ago called “Waiting for the Galactic Bus.” It told the story of a pair of alien brothers marooned on Earth after getting drunk at a picnic (trust me, I’m going somewhere with this). Starting with a single ape-man, they presented humans with self-awareness/consciousness. If you’re looking for a way to fit that into your world view, you can assign that action to God; that was the first “human” with a “soul” and it all proceeded from there.

    Later on those aliens went on to create “Heaven” (Topside) and “Hell” (Below Stairs). It’s a fairly lighthearted story; I remember enjoying it.

    Liked by 1 person

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