I recently realized that I didn’t believe in the Bible. Actually, now that I’ve come to this realization, I wonder if I ever truly believed, but that’s not the point of this essay. The true point of this essay is to pinpoint exactly why I don’t believe, and how I came to that.
Tonight I told my mother that I don’t think I believe in the Bible and Jesus’ divinity, and when she started in with her typical Christian counter-arguments, I realized that I need to pinpoint and solidify what I believe and why so that I can form rational and coherent responses to these questions rather than stumbling over my words trying to express something so vast and overwhelming.
So I will start at the most obvious place: the beginning. That is, what led me to start questioning the Bible? In the past I always considered myself a “rational Christian”. I had big problems with the hypocrisies of organized religion, but I still believed in the Bible and Christianity’s basic beliefs. Many of the problems that I attributed to immoral, power-hungry, man-made organizations however, are actually rooted in the Bible itself (unbeknown to me at the time). I had problems with organizations where rational thought was anathema. I had problems with organizations that tried to force belief through fear of punishment. Blind, stupid, unquestioning belief was all that was allowed, or else you were damned for all eternity, regardless of how you lived your life. In my zeal, I inaccurately attributed these demands to the Churches, not the Bible. After all, God gave us rational minds for a reason, right? God would actually WANT us to question our faith, thus making it all the stronger and meaningful when we come to the conclusion that the Bible is the Word.
Then came a point where I realized that these demands were in the Book itself, not just doctrine that each Church comes up with individually. However, even then I rationed that the Bible had been corrupted by these evil organizations, but that kernel of truth about Jesus’ message and God’s will were still in there. This, to me at that time, explained away all of the inaccuracies and contradictions in the Bible. The Bible is the Word and the Truth, but evil men leading evil organizations added in all of these control measures to cow the masses… simple, right?
So, armed with this belief carried by many Christians I know, how did I come to thoroughly disbelieve the Bible? This system of pick-and-choose what you like from the Bible is, in the believer’s mind, unassailable. Well, the truth is that I came to my system of disbelief while attempting to do something similar to what I am doing in this essay. My goal was to rationally discredit all the other religions, thus leaving my belief as the only rational alternative. Ah… sweet naivety.
I started by trying to figure out WHY these other religions believed as they did. In my rational reasoned exploration, I discovered that all of these other faiths were being willfully ignorant and blind. They believed these things because they had been taught from birth that these things were true. There is tremendous social and familial pressure to believe these things. And there is the fear of damnation that scares them away from questioning these things. Followers of other religions had quite obviously been brainwashed and forced into accepting that these ridiculous claims were true without out any sort of proof. And while the irony is readily apparent to me now, at the time I was perfectly content to ignore the fact that I believed in my own religion for all the same reasons.
As time went on, I continued to try to define my exact beliefs through reason and rational thought. And eventually, just a few days ago in fact, I realized that I did not believe in the Bible or Jesus’ divinity. I did not suddenly stop believing, rather I came to the realization that I had not believed for some time. Beneath the surface of my conscious mind, I had already made the connections; it just took a while for my conscious mind to realize it.
I simply cannot reconcile the amazing-ness and complexity of life with a disbelief in intelligent design. There IS something out there, but it is doubtful that we will ever figure it out. So now I come to the heart of the cause of my disillusionment. These are the reasons why I cannot believe in the Bible, or most any religion for that matter. I cannot reconcile my nature and the nature of all humans for reasoning with a belief system that forbids rational thought. I cannot give credence to anything or anyone that in place of proof, offers fear and punishment for disbelief. I cannot believe in a religion that ignores a person’s actions and how they lived their life, but bases salvation solely on belief. Theoretically, a man can rape, torture, kill, and then eat five hundred infants, then find Jesus and say he’s sorry, and go to Heaven; yet a man who gives himself completely and thoroughly, who devotes his entire life to enriching others’ lives, who would be a “Saint” if he was Catholic, is damned to Hell for all eternity because he (through no fault of his own) wasn’t even aware that Christianity existed. I absolutely cannot and will not believe in any such system.
I cannot believe in a religion that offers no proof whatsoever. Men living in a time when people believed in magic and dragons, when superstition was the law of the land, who lived in a time before even the laughable concepts of “the four elements” wrote these things down, so they must be true. If it is widely accepted that everything else these people thought and believed is completely bogus, then why is this one particular tribe’s thoughts on the supernatural any more believable? Without proof, how is Christianity any more viable than Zeus and the Greek pantheon? For that matter, let’s consider the other Abrahamic religions. How is Christianity’s take any more true? In fact, Mohammad claiming to be the final prophet of God is much more reasonable and believable than Jesus being the literal Son of God. Yet Christians see no problem with dismissing Islam as absurd. Why? Jesus’ claim is so wild that he MUST be telling the truth?
Then of course, there are the myriad contradictions found within the Bible. While many Christians will offer an almost reasonable explanation of the disparity between the Old and New testaments, even the supposed words of Jesus are quite often contradictory.
The irony of all this is that now that I disbelieve, I have become more spiritual. And I am far from an Atheist. In fact, in my study of Biology, specifically cellular and chemical biology, I am more convinced than ever that than ever that there must be SOME sort of higher power. I simply cannot reconcile the amazing-ness and complexity of life with a disbelief in intelligent design. There IS something out there, but it is doubtful that we will ever figure it out. However, it’s the journey towards figuring it out that is important, not the destination. On our REASONED and RATIONAL spiritual journey to figure it out, we grow and evolve as humans. It is more of an inward journey of self-discovery than an outward journey to make contact with some “being”. The true meaning of life, as you will discover on this journey, is to be a good person and to TRULY cherish each and every day you are given, rather than just giving lip-service to the old standby “carpe diem”.
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