- CRITTER TALK
“…I can’t give up all I believe because what I’ve invested will be lost.”
I’m sure there are other reasons as well. These people are content to use up their time, believe what they’re told, pay their dues, and support a whole class of people who don’t have a real job and don’t pay tax.
Most well-educated, intelligent young people aren’t finding these reasons compelling enough to go to church, although there are communities where the indoctrination is so strong, they’re obliged to. Millions of people in the developed world have left churches. For most informed, objective people, belief makes little sense. There have been numerous studies showing that, statistically speaking, intelligence levels and Christian religiosity are inversely proportional.
Those promoting Christianity usually claim facts about belief aren’t necessary. They tell people to rely on their intuition or feelings. So some Christians “know in their hearts” that their God exists, and that’s enough for them. Their assumption is ill founded, because their intuitive feelings are nothing more than what they’ve been told to believe, usually since childhood.
There have been many thousands of different religions throughout history, and billions of people have all had compelling feelings about hundreds of different gods. If Jesus is a god only because believers imagine he is, the same faulty reasoning proves that Mohammed, the supposed founder of Islam, and Joseph Smith, the chief architect of Mormonism, were divinely inspired prophets. It means a painted wooden idol in the African jungle two hundred years ago was an actual god. Today’s Moslems cry out to Allah. They may give up their lives for him, but does that mean he’s listening? No. Did Joseph Smith dictate God’s words? Hardly. Was the painted post a god? Of course not. Was Jesus the savior of the world? Never!
Christians claim other religions have got it wrong, but Jews and Muslims know in their hearts that Christians are mistaken. Intuitive feelings can’t possibly confirm reality, because all three religions can’t be true. They’re mutually exclusive.
I get warm fuzzy feelings if I imagine a million dollars in my bank account. If my friends were to tell me it’s true, I might get real excited, for a minute or two. Improbable fantasies and imaginative friends can’t change reality. The money isn’t really there, even though I’d like it to be. For the same type of reason, Jesus isn’t really a god, despite how good it makes Christians feel.
Instead of turning to intuition, or to our “conscience,” or to what makes us feel good, or to what we’re told in church, we should rely on rational thought, as this is the only proven way to assess what is best and true.
Yet the faithful in all religions have been convinced by spin-doctors that they don’t need evidence. If you’re a diehard believer you’ve probably been worked on for many years, and it might be impossible to reason you out of a position you didn’t reason your way into. You’re getting something out of your belief that I don’t understand. I accept that. I’m well aware human concord isn’t found by insisting one knows absolute truth, but in listening to others’ viewpoints.
I encourage everyone else – those who can be objective and who truly appreciate the value of rational thought, to put Christianity in perspective. It’s a second rate solution sold to those too lazy or frightened to think, one invented by priests and other propagandists to give themselves power and income. “Jesus,” in all his various guises, is a fiction; a mythical figure that symbolizes the acceptance of what well-oiled institutions insist people believe. He’s a corporate logo for a figure who, if he ever existed, never was what he’s made out to be. He’s used to cajole consumers into having faith in a raft of prejudices, beliefs and behaviors, instead of using their common sense. He’s a device to “dumb down” the people. Belief in Jesus is like smoking. A cigarette may seem to be your best friend, yet it damages you without you knowing it, is expensive, and harms your children. Churches are like cigarette companies; they promote a toxic product for their own financial gain.
Atheists are free to find meaning however they choose, without getting caught up in a priest’s or preacher’s agenda. When we accept there’s no God, we’re not throwing anything away, but discovering ourselves, and we break free from corporate control. That’s cathartic! If you’re brave enough to let go, you’ll think more clearly, be less opinionated, more accepting of others, and gentler on yourself. You’ll discover that God, the bible and preachers are holding you back, because open mindedness and rational thinking are far superior. Cognitive dissonance will disappear, real self-esteem improve, you’ll have more time and money, and you’ll probably find more real friends.
If you’re sitting on a fence, not knowing what to believe, consider this. There are no gurus or teachers of infallible truth. Anyone who claims they are is a con man. Enlightenment is found by being true to our inner selves. Some of the earliest Christians, the Gnostics, thought that if we understand the flaws in our own natures we’re freed from ignorance. They believed in being rational, brave and flexible, so we can acknowledge mistakes and move forward. What great ideas. It’s OK to concede we’ve been conned. Whether we’re willing to let debunked dogma go and embrace reason is the important issue.