I have had something of a love and hate relationship with christianity over the course of my life. None of you on here have seen me express either. I have previously maintained that atheists can be as fanatic as any religious zeolott and that religion is a convenient scapegoat for bigger cultural problems. I have argued on here with users like frogbob who just can't get the facts of evolution through thier heads, but I've never been hostile about it.
This may surprise many of you, but in my youth I was a loyal christian. I didn't identify with any particular denomination but you could most accurately describe it as anglican. Even at my most pious I was never mired in the paegentry of catholicism. I did attend a cathlic elementary school and I attended bible camp in the summer. The faith I carried, to my present shame, all the way to highschool was the result of one thing that went on in both intiutions. My motivation was simple: it was fear. They made me afraid. They threatened me with the usual promise of hell if I didn't accept Jesus into my heart and try to convert others. They emphasized that being afraid to help others along was no excuse and it was my duty to try. So I did try. I actually ministered to other children, to no sucess of course. I was a rather ignorant child. Fear was the biggest part but of course there was another powerful lie to Christianity. The lie is thus: that everything will be alright in the end, through christ. Even as a very young child I knew the world was a painful place. I hadn't begun to understand the suffering I would know as an adult, but I suffered enough. The answer they offered, that my suffering was alright. That I would be rewarded for it. Naturally I was thrilled with this. It's a powerful technique afterall. It's employed in almost every one of today's major religions.
As I said, I continued this up to highschool. I think I must have been in a fog. That's the only way I can describe it. I was never so silly that I didn't believe in evolution, or thought humans were somehow more special then the rest of creation. I had never accepted those premises. How I dealt with the fact that they contradicted Christian dogma is that I ignored that fact. I created my own idea of a personal god. Christians imagine a distant vengeful god often enough. I imagined a personal god that was beyond human emotions. Noturally I ahdn't read the bible at all. I find it funny now that I didn't. As children we're made to understand what we think is in there. Small things were eating away at my faith and it was ready to break, but it held on it's tenous foundation for longer then made any sense. I wanted to hold on to it. That's the only reason it survived. When I was 15 I was into the comedy of George Carlin who is just about the rgeatest comedian and philosopher of the last 50 years. If you are familiar with his work you know that his later acts are filled with penetrating religious satire. He made some excellent points but I closed my ears to them. Skipped them in the books and fast forwarded through them in the cd's. I was afraid to face any challange to my faith and that meant it was already doomed.
I don't know what element broke me at last. Many things were building against it for some time. Everyone I respected was atheist. At some point I sat down and read the bible from cover to cover. Those I knew with faith said this was the wrong way to go about it. They said the bible was subjective, but I had to see it all. I can admit today that there are good things in there, but at the time I was struck with the atrocities. Awful acts of rape, murder, genocide, incest and other things that gave me the yuck factor back in those days were outlined in the old testament. The new testament was rather judegemental, but otherwise rather agreeable. Of course it didn't matter. I don't recall the moment I broke. I only recall that I had been depriving myself of joy all my life for god, and now I was tired and I was done.
The time after this could best be described as doing a 180. I was angry and bitter at all the lies that had held me and all the time I had wasted, all the pleasure I had denied myself in the name of fairy tales. I studied the atrocities of religion day and night and become a spokesman for anti christianity. This alsted into the first couple years of college. I still wanted some idea of the divine, but mostly for imagination purposes. I didn't think this world was nice enough and myths were more fun. There was a time when I identified myself as pagan, shaminist, elementalist and other things. I even wore a pentagram for a number of months. I think I wanted to be something diferent. My anger hadn't subsided entirely but it spent a lot of time receeding.
I enjoyed a couple brief affairs with diferent conceptions of buddhism around this point, but we won't go into them in this chapter. I spent the most time understanding the historical context of Christianity. I wanted to know what was behind the power that had held me for so much of my life.
What I found may shock some of you if you have never looked into this before. Most of modern christianity's interpretation of Christ is based upon the opinion of Paul, a man who never met him and who the actual apostles greatly disagreed with. The idea that Jesus had died for the sins of humanity had never been stated by christ himself or any of the apostles. Paul saw it in a vision suposedly. This is all just parts of the story though. More likely the gospel was composed by more then a few men, probably several hundred. There were large pieces of it thrown out when a council voted to decide which teachings were acceptable and which were not. Not a rod about jesus was actually written down until a few hundred years after his death. This, as it turns out, likely means that we haven't a clue who he actually was or what he taught. for starters 'Jesus' is a latin name given to him to make him more acessable to the audience paul was bringing him to. His name was Yeshua which would better translate as Joshua. He was likely short, brown, and had curly black hair given how people in his region looked at the time he lived. Nothing like our blue eyed caucasian image of him.
Most importantly: at the time Christ lived there were all kinds of 'messiahs'. There were handfuls of men preaching similiar things that jesus preached and performing miracles. One in particular, Apolonius of Tiana, preached and performed miracles was crucified and raised from the dead just like Jesus. There is a good reason why there were all kinds of spiritual figures at this time. Records of the entire span of human history, which we mostly only have from ten thousand years ago when written language came together, indicate that never before had people felt the way they now did about life. We can safely assume the millions of years (or hundreds of thousands of years if you only accept homo sapiens as human) of human history before this also included no one thinking this way about life. Never before had people been so miserable but 8000 years after the advent of totalitarian agriculture, the toil of surviving in the most laborious lifestyle ever created was creating warfare crime and widespread disease for the first time in human history. After tolerating it for thosands of years, people concluded that there is something wrong with humans.
This is the lies that makes up my biggest objection to christianity and the one that made the world right for a messiah to come along. Because of the ways we act out due to population density and resoruce needs, problems humans had never had before the 8 thosuand years preceeding the birth of christ, it is concluded that humans are evil and therefore in need of saving. I must say, if I genuinely believed this nonsense then Jesus would be a fine savior, but the fact is that I don't. Humans are fine. There is not one thing wrong with us. We're not saints naturally, but we're not flawed. Our culture is flawed of course. We are behaving in a way that makes us profoundly destructive malicious and miserable, but this has nothing to do with being human.
My anger has subsisded by now enough that I can look at christianity this way and see it as a cultural plague. It, and other relgions like it emerging at the same time, fit nicely into the need that arose from our lifestyle. It's a lovely little ball of lies that makes us feel like we can bare our suffering. the truth of our lives, of humanity, of the earth is much better. largely because it is the truth. That is for another chapter however.
If you liked this great mountain of text I have presented here today then feel free to encourage me to write the other chapters. otherwise, I fully expect to see tldr down there.