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Why Not Try Atheism?

By Carl S ~

Many are raised in Catholicism and become Evangelicals or Episcopalians or whatever. Some in other sects came to “accept Jesus” while most are merely warm to him. Others of various sects became convinced and/or rabid Christians; most remain moderate. (I knew a man who changed from Lutheran to Christian Scientist to Methodist, and he was still in his 50's.) One Supreme Court judge described “Experience and Feeling as the Ultimate Ground of the Christian faith.” That's it? Wow. Doesn't that description fit every religion, and even schizophrenia?

Many people switch sects just like they switch jobs. Many believers toy with astrology, Buddhism, dogmatic patchwork-faith-combinations, exotic methods of mindfulness, etc. What about you, what else is there? Why not try atheism? Go ahead and live a secret life for awhile. Does the thought scare you? Apparently, pedophile priests, their supporters, and leading clergy of any religions aren't scared of being punished by their God, and they claim to be privy to his thoughts. Even if you're confused about or bored with Christianity, get out of the rut. You're in for an adventure.

Maybe you hadn't thought about this: according to Annie Laurie Gaylor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), most people live like atheists. They don't think about gods or supernatural matters or invoke them as they go about living their lives day by day. If you're a normal person, you're already on atheism's road, traveling along. Unlike religious systems, atheism doesn't require adopting incredible, conflicting, or nonsensical beliefs.

So stop going to church. If family, friends, or neighbors greet you with, “I haven't seen you in church lately,” that might tell you why you went there: social expectations, your standing in the community, fear of ostracism, and not thinking about the fact you were going through the motions, etc. Stop contributing your money. You're likely to hear from the pastor and elders about that. Stop praying and see what happens. Will your life be any different, will you be better or worse off? Will you be any different yourself, like ah, will you become bitter, hard-assed, immoral or less loving? Of course not. And when you're free to live outside the fold, you can objectively look at those within to see if they are better or worse off than you. That alone is an improvement, just being outside the compound.

“Is God willing to prevent evil but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able but not willing? Then he is malevolent.” Now you're free to read all the forbidden material and to question why it should ever had been forbidden. You're free to do this without fear of being executed, tortured, and imprisoned. Just think. The fact you can do this is a wide-open opportunity to discover just what has been hidden for two thousand years and more! Lucky you. Why is God afraid of scrutiny? Where's the threat to an almighty being in that? If you’re doubting there's a “God,” you might look at what's said about “him.” He demanded the death penalty for anyone caught looking behind the curtain and seeing little men operating the levers. You see his agents have been passing off “alternative facts” and “fake news” for centuries. They don't want you prying and questioning to find the real facts. His agents are afraid of that, and rightly so. You might find yourself asking about things you should have taken seriously. For example: Why there are those who do evil because they believe by doing evil they are doing good.

Try using a system devised by the “God” sales agents of early Christianity: They would test the other traditional gods and use those gods' failures to pass the tests as proof of their non-existence. According to their writings (which are hearsay), the other gods failed, and only their “God” passed the tests. They claimed that every single time this happened proved their god is the true one, and, they said, of course everyone accepted him. Interesting. Their “tests and proofs” were the same ones for all the gods. And yet, their followers tell you “We should not test God!” Try their method for yourself. Hold this same “God' up to scrutiny, too. Keep score of all your answered and unanswered prayers to this god, and, by the way, check to see if miracles attributed to him have any other explanation. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

The great Greek philosopher Epicurus wrote, “Is God willing to prevent evil but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able but not willing? Then he is malevolent.” To focus on one part of this, let's just say the God of Abraham and Mohammed and Jesus does not believe in prevention. And anyone who can see evil coming, can prevent it, and does not, billions of times every day, is just useless, and might as well not exist. I am reminded of this every time I see a news report about a “missing child,” whose body is later found. I think of the millions of prayers said with profound hope that that child will be safely returned to its already emotionally tortured parents. Thinking about the rapes and murders of so many of those children makes me sick with grief. Anyone who would allow this to go on repeatedly is the ultimate sadist. As a Christian, you were taught to worship this same god - a sadist who also drowns children (in the Great Flood) while he watches their parents desperately try to save them, even sacrificing their lives for them. And you accepted he was moral?

All this time, living as an atheist has been referred to as a casting off, of unburdening, discovering mind-liberating writings banned for ages, and finding out why so many good people have been persecuted for even suggesting one should go wherever their questioning leads. And isn't the room with the most information the one most likely to contain the truth? Religions are a way to avoid or excuse personal responsibility, and humans can become very addicted to that. “God” will forgive that, and people like this release. On the other hand, without gods in the way, the personal choice of leaping into reality-based discoveries and making responsible decisions can become its own oft-repeating satisfaction. Give atheism a try. Dare to doubt.