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I Cannot Make the Leap January 9, 2011

Posted by jetson in Personal.
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Many Christians support their beliefs with faith. They say that without faith, they might not believe. And I am left wondering why faith is necessary at all? If God is real, then why do we need faith to believe? Well, for one thing, we cannot actually see God, or can we?

Exodus 33:20
There shall no man see me, and live.

John 1:18
No man hath seen God at any time.

Exodus 33:11
And the Lord spake to Moses face to face, as a man speaketh to his friend.

Genesis 32:30
And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

So, here are four verses that claim we both cannot see God, and that God has been seen. I guess we’ll never know, and to be honest, I have never met a Christian who claims to have actually seen God. So, faith it is then.

But faith is a leap, isn’t it? That’s what we mean when we say “a leap of faith”. It means that we figuratively jump, or “leap” to a belief, despite not actually knowing that the belief is real, or true. And it is this leap that I cannot make, at least not with any honesty.

And why should I? What exactly am I leaping to? A god that is so powerful as to have created the entire universe and everything in it, yet cannot make a simple appearance to me? I don’t understand this. According to Exodus, God can and has been seen. I guess I am supposed to conclude that I am not as important or special as Moses. And frankly, according to Exodus 33:20, no man has seen God and lived! No thanks!

As a person who has been trying to understand what all of the fuss is about, I have yet to be shown a clear method to join the believers club. But the one thing that continues to surface, is that I have to believe with all my heart, and have faith. As much as I might want to believe with all my heart, I simply cannot. I don’t know why, either. I don’t hate God, I don’t hate religion. I’ve spent plenty of time in church and sunday school, so I know a lot of the major stories in the Bible. I know that I will burn in Hell for all eternity if I don’t accept Jesus as my savior. Yet, here I am without the ability to simply believe with all my heart.

Faith is empty when it comes to God. It is a leap to nothing. It is exactly like having faith and believing with all my heart that Santa is real. And I realize that Santa is nothing at all like God, but believers must realize that to me, Santa is exactly like God. Imaginary. And no amount of faith is going to change that. I need something else. Something that Christianity simply has been unable to provide. Evidence.

Stretch to Fit – The Bibles October 25, 2009

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Why are there over 38,000 sects of Christianity? Are there then 38,000 interpretations of The Bible? If so, how could that happen if The Bible is the word of the most powerful God known to humans? How could this god possibly have made the book so open to interpretation, and for the last couple of thousand years has done nothing to bring Christians back to the origin of Christianity? If anything, it is the opposite, Christianity gets further and further splintered by all of these diverse Christian groups.

Christianity is now bastardized so far in every conceivable direction, that it is barely discernible in some sects to even be considered Christianity at all. What a mess. It’s like The Bible has gone through “evolution” following the Darwinian model, with each branch creating a life of its own, and becoming less similar as it branches out. How ironic.

My experience so far, and I admit it is limited, says that what is really happening, is that groups of religious people, believers in Christ, are each stretching The Bible to fit their views. Very convenient, and in almost every case, easy to support, given the strange passages found sprinkled throughout the books. The contradictions, for example, easily allow one group to promote and support slavery, while other groups can condemn it and point to passages that seem to support their view as well.

Genesis is another book that can be stretched in almost any direction, in order to support a particular view of how the world and the universe, and all of earths life was created. We have young earth creationists, who believe that Genesis is a literal account of all of creation by God. Then we have The Catholic Church, which supports the theory of evolution as it stands through scientific measure. Then we have this group, Reasons To Believe, who have found a way to make Genesis match almost perfectly with the scientific understanding of the age of the universe, and of the planet earth! Amazing, all Christian views, all based on Genesis, and all convinced that they are correct.

From creation, to prophecy, to morals, to current social issues, every sect gets to weigh in, and gather supporters that agree with their interpretations. They get to claim they know they are right, because they are reading a book. The SAME BOOK that all other sects are reading, yet coming to DIFFERENT conclusions!

I would like for at least one honest Christian to admit that this is definitely a problem. I grow tired of the apologetics, the “we’re rights”, the “they’re not True Christians”, and every other excuse in the book. I want someone to actually admit that they are embarrassed, at least a little, that Christianity is now so diverse in its views, that it is literally impossible for a person to look at Christianity, and decide what the truth actually is about its tenets, its God, and its rules for life. This is a disaster for such a pervasive organization as far as I can see.

The Bible – A Series of Passages (I) September 3, 2009

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I am a new blogger!  I’m just a regular guy with no particular expertise on life, other than my almost 47 years of living it!  My journey has brought me to consider that humans have no particular reason to consider that religion, its gods, or its tenets are required to live happy, healthy and fulfilled lives.  I am an atheist (please look up the definition before you claim to know what it means!)  It is not easy to say this publicly given the stigma attached to the term.  To save you the trouble, atheism is simply the belief that there are no real gods.

I do not believe in any of the thousands of gods through human history.  I am fairly certain that all gods are man-made, as a method of explaining the unknown, and of filling minds with a reason for our existence.  I also believe that gods were created as a method of controlling large groups of people through fear, shame, and guilt.  Notice I said, fairly certain – which means that I have no way of proving that a god does not exist, and I will never be absolutely certain.  It does not mean that I am entertaining the idea that a god is possible either, so it is safe to say that my atheist view is going to remain intact for the rest of my life.

Before I start my series on Bible passages, I would just like to add that I have no desire to promote atheism in particular, this is about my personal journey, and what I have come to believe thus far in my life.  I have many friends and colleagues who are Christian, Muslim, and Jewish, for example.  I respect their individual journeys and beliefs, and I will only speak out when specific religious beliefs are forced upon myself or others.

I spent my time in Catholic churches and Sunday schools, I went through the Catholic Sacraments, and never did I believe or consider that what I was being taught was actually real.  I knew little about religion or Christianity in general, heck, I used to think the Pope was in charge of Christianity!  I took much of it as metaphorical, and much of it as mythological – just like the religions and gods of ancient cultures and societies, as I was taught in public school.  Perhaps I was somehow predisposed to rational or logical thought – like a Vulcan (when I was a baby, I did have sharp ears – no kidding!)  The only thing that ever made me nervous was being surrounded by adults in church who seemed to believe that God was real.  I was nervous because I was afraid that not believing would hurt me, somehow.

I would like to present some passages from The Bible that I never heard when I was young.  Passages that I firmly believe are withheld from Sunday masses and services across the Christian communities simply because they would likely raise a lot of questions, as well as present a message that is not exactly loving or peaceful.  My reason for presenting these passages is to share my thoughts, and to invite people to share their own views on the purpose or meaning of these passages.  I am certainly not an authority on scripture, but I can read and comprehend the messages, so that works for me.  Besides, given the vast number of different interpretations of Biblical passages and stories, my interpretation is certainly as valid as the next person.

Genesis 6:5-7

6:5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
6:6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
6:7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

I did hear this story when I was young, but not in such dramatic and cruel detail as the actual words from The Bible.  It’s so easy to tell people that were not around at the time that God was angry, so he flooded the earth, and allowed Noah and his family, and a bunch of animals to live.  When I heard the story, I literally thought that there were a few people around who were being “bad” in Gods mind.  I also took it as pure mythology.  It never occurred to me that God killed hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people, as well as every other living thing that creepeth on the earth, including birds!

Which brings me to the cruelty and violence of this passage.  I’m picturing people of all ages, going about their daily routine of living, the youngest being hardly aware of God, all unaware of their pending deaths by flood.  I’m picturing people desperately grasping to their children and their loved ones, trying to stay alive, only to be overwhelmed and cruelly killed by the relentless flood from God, the one who was so unhappy with man, which He, Himself created.  God created man, man chose to be evil according to God, so God decides to kill all humans and animals?  I am a father myself, and it has never crossed my mind to kill all of my children, and their pets, and every living thing in my backyard, because they disobeyed me or somehow angered me.  But who am I to judge.

I find it odd also, that Noah was the single man on the entire planet who was “with God”, such that God chose Noah and his family as the only ones allowed to survive.  Apparently God wasn’t in the mood to really start over, so he chose Noah to keep the human race going.  That’s not exactly starting over now is it?  The god of The Bible was always described to me as all loving, all knowing, and the one who created everything, including man.  It disturbs me to think that a god so powerful as to create the universe and all it contains, and then to create humans in his image, only to discover that those humans were not so great after all, and instead of truly starting over, He relegates the responsibility to Noah.  Apparently Noah was perfect enough, even though he came from Gods original mold, or so say’s The Bible.

So, God kills everyone in order to restore the earth, and remove the continuous evil perpetrated by all men (and women and children and birds?)  The story comes across as a soft, loving story of a god who was merciful to Noah and his family, and specific pairs and sevens of clean and dirty animals, such that he spared them their very lives and made the world a much better place.  There are even beautiful toys sold in most major retail outlets that depict the story – a nice, colorful boat, filled with cute little animals, and Noah and his wonderful family of good people. Strange how the toy sets don’t contain the dead people and animals as well, you know, so the children really know what was going on.  As it is, most children are never told that there were obviously innocent people killed in the flood.  We have to assume that every single person, and every living animal, was guilty and deserved to die.  I for one, find this extremely cruel and unnecessary.

I’m not sure what God’s goals were, but I’m assuming He wanted everyone to worship, praise, and love Him as the one and only god.  I think it is clear after thousands of years, that nothing even close to that goal was accomplished.  In fact, I consider it a monumental failure on Gods part.  Maybe God will try again in the future to kill everyone who is evil…