7/07/2015 | Share this article: View CommentsBy John Shores ~
As we look back at human history and compare them to the discoveries made in the past few hundred years, we find that the sheer tonnage of natural things that humans have wrongly attributed to spiritual causes is staggering.
Why is it so difficult for Christians to say those three little words, "I don't know?"
Most Christians in the West are sensible enough to recognize that a hurricane, earthquake or other natural disaster is not some punishment from god for some human behavior. But there are those who will still claim that natural disasters are just that. Recall with me all those who came out of the woodwork on September 11 and claimed that the tragedy that befell New York and Washington were god's punishment for homosexuality or abortion or some other sociopolitical issue.
But even among the most enlightened Christians lives the idea that there is some spiritual entity ("god") keeping track of everyone's actions and who is going to punish or reward people for what they did or didn't do.
I fail to see how this is really any different from the view that god uses natural disasters to punish people for some wickedness or other. It's still all based on the same superstitious thinking that our distant ancestors held.
If you are willing to admit that no god in his right mind would take out a trailer park with a tornado just because he was ticked off at someone, why not apply the same sensibility toward the ludicrous idea of some kind of eternal punishment?
Time and again we ex-Christians come against the question "how can you be moral without god?" The simple fact is that we can and we are.
To ask the question "how can you be moral without god?" is like asking "how can you not believe in god and still be subject to gravity?" The fact that atheists are moral is all the evidence that is required.
And like all other evidence, it makes Christianity completely irrelevant.
The Joy Of Not Knowing
It was not until I left Christianity that I discovered that one of its most insipid poisons is the "answers" that it offers. It hands out answers to what happens when we die. It gives answers about the ultimate demise of this Earth and this universe.
The poison is this: Heaven and Earth are passing away.
It is the ultimate devaluing of the wonders that surround us.
Personally, I see no value in claiming to know what happens after death. There is simply no way of knowing such things.
Yet this is Christianity's obsession. It's an obsession that robs people of true awe and wonder.
As humans, we have a habit of just making stuff up to satisfy our thirst for knowledge. Nordic tribes explained the aurora borealis by inventing a story about the Firefox. The Egyptians divided up the nighttime into 12 hours and told a story of the Sun God (Ra) fighting through twelve gates of the underworld so that he could rise again in the east.
I see no value in claiming to know what happens after death. There is simply no way of knowing such things.Today we can look back on such stories and think that they are quaint but our ancestors took them very seriously.
We have advanced beyond these myths largely due to the rapid growth of scientific knowledge over the past 150 or so years. The myriad discoveries that have been made and verified have given us a great gift.
We now know that there are things that can actually be known and understood. And we have found a method by which we can verify such things.
But the real gift is not the things we have learned. The gift is that we can now let go of things that we simply don't know without devolving into fear. We can be confident that many of those things that we don't know will be understood one day.
More importantly, we can be confident that there are things that simply cannot be known, and that's OK.
Most important of all, I think that we have begun to realize how very small we are. This terrifies the religious.
I was surprised to find that admitting this smallness left me profoundly humble and overwhelmed with awe in ways that I never could experience as a Christian who had the "answers."