I was born into a deeply Catholic family. I vividly remember having a picture of the pope on my window ledge, several pairs of rosary beads and a crucifix over my bed. Choir boy and avid fan of the whole Jesus thing. I started to question in high school. Instead of losing interest, I actually studied Mark’s Gospel (RE GCSE) and was thrown out of several lessons for asking rather uncomfortable questions. Particularly “Sir, if Jesus went out into the desert alone for 40 days and 40 nights and was tempted by the devil 3 times, who was there to witness and write it down as I don’t think Jesus was the type to brag on his return?” etc.
I was never able to shake the indoctrination though, when we got married and spent every Sunday in church for 2 years, it just came back naturally. Mrs got what she wanted when we got married, me being back in church was one of them. Pretty sure that if you could search my posts on the old forum, you’d find one of me stating that I believed in the existence of god. I absolutely admit that I did. But did I come to this decision through my own investigation of the merits of soteriology? Nah, was being hit by nuns since I was old enough to talk. I heard a comedian on Radio 4 once who said that her primary school was just painting and Jesus. Yep, that was me. Oh and holding hands with Clare in hymn practice but that’s another story. Thankfully our priest (Father Up) wasn’t one of the really bad ones. Did once tell me to do ten male hairies as a penance after confession but I always assumed his Freudian slip was because he had something on his mind.
Anyway, it was Brian Cox who mentioned a guy called Christopher Hitchens on the Monkey Cage. That was a real watershed moment for me. I inhaled his works, videos and books. Went through Dawkins, Kraus the new age atheists etc etc. The video of the i2 debate with Hitch and Fry really is the perfect introduction to the wonderful path away from religion: The Catholic Church is a Force for Good in the World - Full Version - YouTube
As I’ve posted elsewhere, a very grumpy me was dragged to the Vatican aged 16 (leaving my rather tasty girlfriend at home) and was utterly gobsmacked by St Peter’s. Apart from its shattering size and magnificence, my earlier research of Mark’s Gospel really did set alarm bells ringing. JC’s teachings were very much NOT about building golden palaces in his name. Easy to divert this thread as a funnel through which to pour bile and hatred at the Catholic Church, however that’s like throwing bricks at the floor.
It stuns me now how little Christians (in general) know about the bible. My parents are as socialist and Labour is it’s possible to be. When I told mum that Boris was chosen by god, she laughed at me. So I asked her for her bible and gave her the reference Romans 13:1 She won’t discuss religion or the bible with me now. She can’t abide any conversation or thoughts that might bring her religion into question. Thankfully, I can and did.
I’ve spent the last week in London (South) which has been great fun. I walked past a local church early Sunday morning and was stopped (shame) by a very smart and well pressed young gentleman who wanted to earnestly explain the peace and love of his lord Jesus Christ. I did start by asking if he really wanted to have that conversation. He was absolute that he did as he wanted to help all sinners. Oh dear. Now he was a friendly and well-meaning man but brainwashed almost to the point of the loss of the ability to think for himself. Once somebody claims that everything in the bible is true, it’s very easy to make them look foolish. My usual path is to ask the person if they believe that the bible is the divine word of god. If it is then everything in the book must be true and god’s will. So murder, child rape, slavery etc etc is all mandated by god. “No it isn’t!” is almost always the retort. So I quote exactly these passages back at them. “Ah well, you’re taking these things out of context and the real meaning is lost in translation from the originals” Which originals? And how do you mis-translate taking the female virgins for yourself after slaughtering all the men and women?
There are so many problems with the bible, so many contradictions, so many logical inconsistencies and so many blatantly immoral teachings that the concept of it being the divine word of god is just ludicrous. I’ve been thinking of this thread for ages but it was Sunday morning’s discussion with a very keen gentleman at Speakers’ Corner that lead me to a revelation climbing up 10 flights of stairs to our apartment. He refuted that Jesus condoned any of the Old Testament and it could be cast aside and ignored. My standard retort is Matthew 5:18 I come not to change a jot nor tittle of the law. But it occurred to me climbing the stairs that when he turned over the money lenders’ tables in the temple he said “How dare you turn my father’s house into a marketplace?” Absolutely claiming that his dad is the same person who murdered millions in the flood (amongst other things). For details : All The People God Kills In The Bible - Vocativ
So where does this go? I’m partial to debate with people who are keen to engage. I’ll never knock on people’s doors and ask them renounce religion but I’m very happy to put the kettle on for Witnesses who want to sell me their huge list of incorrect prophesies. You stop me in the street and ask why I think people suffer and I’ll answer. A little bit of me is still shaking from the man who said to my face that my mother-in-law’s horrific death due to a brain tumour was punishment for her actions in life. He was in tears by the end and he utterly deserved it. I can be a vicious bastard when I want to be and I make no apologies for it when provoked. However I stress I raised nothing but my voice.
I’m curious as to why people still believe in religion in this day and age. There has been no testable or repeatable evidence of any supernatural event in history. God turns up 2000 years ago for a bit then plays the world’s greatest game of hide and seek? I doubt it a lot. Now I’ll never say that a god doesn’t exist, who knows what lurks under a stone on the 3rd moon of Jagalon Beta? But the god of the bible (or any other world religion)? Nah, not having any of it for a second.
To me, if I wanted to believe in a god, I’d do the following:
- Confirm the existence of a god
- Confirm which god it is
- Decide which flavour of its religion makes the most sense
Sadly my parents started at point 4 and as the tower was built on sand, it eventually collapsed. Until you can prove to me that god exists, keep trying. And to go a step further, if you can prove that the god of the bible exists, I’ll accept it but I won’t worship such a hideous creature.
I shook the yoke and feel so much happier for it, one life, live it. Pascal’s wager? Not for me.
I do urge you to watch the video at the top if you haven’t seen it before.
Looking forward to getting to Texas sometime soon and meeting Matt Dilahunty, if you know, you know.
So that’s my story. What do you believe and if you’ll indulge me, why? And to go a step further, have you ever considered why you believe and do you want to? My mum believes because her mum did. Doesn’t seem like a good reason to me. Certainly not when it’s probably the most important and longest standing question in history (42)