Questions are an important tool that humans use to understood the environment around us. Why does the apple fall from trees? Why don’t we float into space? Are we the center of the universe? Where did we come from? Why am I here? What is my purpose? What made me?
Religion answers some of these for people. It gives them purpose. It gives them a community that they are a part of. I don’t think religion as an idea is evil. It does motivate people to do good, but also it can bring out the worst in some people.
The big religion on the block today is Christianity. I remember as a child, I was very confused by the different sects of it. Catholic, Protestant, Methodist. What are the differences between these? Are they all correct? Can they all possibly be? Does everyone in these sects get into heaven?
All my friends went to CCD. I didn’t go to that. Were they all more saved than I was?
I’ll remind you that as kid I didn’t have a clear picture of what God and Jesus represented. They were protectors. They were there to protect us from Satan, Lucifer.
God was the creator of everything. He knew all. He could do anything.
He sent his son, Jesus to die for our sins. Jesus revived and then went somewhere. (As a kid, I never had an idea of where he went. I just knew he left.)
Satan wanted souls so he could torture people in hell. He tricked people and wanted them to sin.
Adam and Eve had been the first two people ever. Eve gave Adam fruit from the Tree of Fruit after being tricked by the snake. This is why mankind needs to be saved.
That was Christianity as I understood it. I also knew some bible stories like Moses, David and Goliath, Noah, Jonah.
It was after I was given this information that I had some questions.
We were told that we were all children of God. I remember asking
“If we’re all children of god, then how come Jesus gets such special treatment? He got to come back after he died.”
The answer I receieved. Jesus and God are one and the same. This only served to confuse me further.
So God sent himself to die for our sins?
The Adam and Eve story confused me immensely. Where were the dinosaurs and cave men? Were they in the garden?
My father told me that parts of the bible weren’t meant to be taken literally.
Which parts do you know are meant to be taken literally then?
I had simple questions like these. They didn’t piss anyone off. My parents were glad to give me answers even if I didn’t understand any of them really. I continued to pray every night until I reached ninth grade. I never enjoyed going to Church, but I had to go because my parents made me. My father moved up the rankings in our church. I never viewed him as incredibly religious at this time.
This one time my cousin took me to a Catholic church. It was a different experience than the one my parents sent me. I understood everything that said. I still didn’t enjoy it.
One day in my English class freshmen year, my teacher made this comment that Shakespeare probably helped to translate the bible. This shook some foundation in me.
I had never once thought of the bible being translated from language to language.
Men translated the bible? What if they made a mistake? My parents didn’t really have an answer for this other than that it was impossible. I wasn’t satisfied with their answer. I set off to the internet.
And I found a variety of answers. I was further confused by this. It was then that I happened upon a website that blew my mind.
I never went on the site. I just saw the link.
I sat there in my chair. I couldn’t think of a single good reason for why God couldn’t heal amputees. He could do anything. Anything.
If God is good and can do anything, why not do it? Why has this never happened?
The answers I received were
“Man cannot comprehend God.”
“It’s not in God’s plan.”
What? He has all the power in the universe and he can’t make one person’s arm grow back. What plan is this? Why is that not in the plan? That would make more people believe in him. There was one answer that I particularly didn’t like.
“He’s testing them.” Wait. Doesn’t God know everything? Why would he test people if he already knows what’s going to happen? Why test those specific people too?
Then my brain stirred up another question. “Why did God put that Tree in the Garden of Eden, if he know Adam and Eve would eat it?”
My father always had an answer for questioning this.
“God didn’t want mankind to be robots. He gave us free will so we would choose to love and praise him.” This answer didn’t satisfy me either.
“Why does God need praise and love? Isn’t he perfect? Why make a choice between hell and heaven? That’s not much of a choice. It’s basically the same thing as being a robot.”
Why would he make the snake? Why doesn’t he show up today? Why did God need to rest on the seventh day? Why does there need to an apocalypse? Why did God make hell? Why don’t other people come back to life when they die? Are Christians the only ones who can get into heaven? Where does evolution fit in? What about people who are good but aren’t Christians?
The answer to the last question was always “God will judge them accordingly.”
What if they went to hell? That didn’t seem right to me at all.
The internet held a lot of information bringing up the question of God’s existence. The suffering of people particularly made me question my faith in God.
Why is it that someone can be born in a country that they will starve to death and God does not intervene?
Is it beyond him? Why allow this to happen? He can see all. He can do anything. Yet He lets them suffer.
Children are born with defects. They die of cancer. Even devout Christians are not free from the evils of this world. They bleed. They suffer. They can die horrible deaths. Where is their protection? They’ll get into heaven? That’s the best God can do.
The priest at my parent’s church told me this when he heard that I was asking questions.
“Christianity has stood for a long time. People have attacked it for years. And it still stands today for good reason.”
I went home and thought about what he said. I then realized this wasn’t an argument he should be making. It just made Christians seem stubborn in their beliefs. For 2000 years, someone has had a problem with their religion. Their religion with a perfect all loving God. Something was off here.
I looked up the history of Christianity and became more familiar with its criticisms. I looked up atheism and humanism at the same time. I didn’t like “Do what God says.” aspect of Christianity. Are you really acting good if you’re only doing to get to heaven and because God tells you to? As people, we should do good because we want to.
I came across an atheist rapper known as Greydon Square. I didn’t listen to much rap at that time, but I enjoyed Greydon Square lyrics. There was one lyric in particular I really liked.
“I’m dreamin’ of a world where there’s no such thing as the Bible Belt
Instead of lookin’ up you look inside yourself
and when you do find yourself
You help somebody else”
My parents continued to force me to go to Church. I gave them excuses for not wanting to go like “I don’t understand anything” and “it’s boring.” They still forced me to go. I went there and I hated the sermons. I just had to sit there and listen to an opinion I didn’t agree with.
One day the priest yelled at us, ” I didn’t evolve from some ape.”
I looked around as he said this to a crowd of people who agreed with him. They burst into song. I shook my head, got out of my seat, and walked out. I waited on the stairs for the service to be over. This became my weekly routine. I’d go and walk out once I had had enough.
Eventually my parents confronted me about it. August 2007. I told them it was because I didn’t like it. I told them I didn’t understand the language spoke. They offered to send me to my cousin’s church.
I told them no. They keep pushing me for my real answer. So I finally gave it to them.
“I don’t believe in a god.” This was complete honesty. I had no more faith in the religion of my parents.
They were not amused. My mother cried and prayed. My father told me that atheists weren’t happy. My mother said she wouldn’t give me anything to eat if that was the case. My father told me that having an atheist for a son was not the plan he had.
I talked to the ceiling for the last time that day. I asked for a sign. Of course I received none. I’ve never been able to confide in my parents since that day. I think I grew quite bitter over that. They had such a negative reaction when I told them something honest about myself. I never said it just to make them angry or to rebel. I told them the truth about how I felt. They condemned me for it. In turn, I respected them less. I thought they were there to support me every part of the way.
We’d have arguments over me not going to Church. My father in a last ditch effort to restore my faith tried to hold bible studies for me. It didn’t work. I couldn’t believe in an all powerful, all knowing all loving God. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to be a part of their religion. It all seemed like a huge waste of time. Praying, fasting? It didn’t make any difference. You weren’t safe.
Christianity became a sore spot for me. The day after my mother said she wouldn’t feed me anymore, she asked me to fold the clothes for her. I looked at her and asked her which was more important in her life, God or her children.
And she said God. Being a smartass, I told her to ask God to do it for her and walked away. She knew those clothes would not fold themselves no matter how much she prayed so she folded them.
Once I questioned the existence of God, I could question anything. I questioned every rule I met. Why should I be nice to everyone I meet? Why should I leave a tip when I pay at a restaurant? Why do children need to be spanked? Why do people need to get married? Why is alcohol seen as a good thing? Why?
The world made a lot more sense as I looked for the answers for these questions and came up with my own conclusions. I don’t hate anyone who is Christian. I can sorta see where you are coming from. I’m not sure if the world would be a better place without religion. Many people have trouble constructing morals without the bible.
I just wish religion didn’t get in the way of progression some times.