My Statement of (Non)Belief
My Statement of (Non)Belief
(or, Why I Don’t Believe What I Don’t Believe)
I was recently asked by Zhoen to explain why I went from a Fundamentalist, Bible-thumpin’ Christian to a “non-believer.” The answer is simple, yet complex. I could simply say that one day “I started thinking,” but using that phrase would just annoy a lot of people. But basically, that’s what it comes down to. I started thinking about the Bible and religions and came to the conclusion that it was all wrong.
Or let me explain it this way: Imagine you’re back in school, sitting in a math or science class. The teacher is explaining a theorem that’s new to you. You’re sitting there taking notes and following along. A smile comes across your face because you actually “get” what the teacher is saying. Then, as the lecture goes on, your smile begins to fade and suddenly what once made sense to you doesn’t. You sit there trying to figure it out, but it just won’t make sense. That’s religion and me.
So, to explain further, I guess I shall start in the beginning.
“In The Beginning.”
“In the Beginning God” preachers love to quote. The word “God” is used 30 times in the first chapter of the Bible. So, according to the Bible, God created everything. Fine. Who created God? (You know this argument, I’m sure.) Well, they say, God is everlasting. But we humans can’t grasp eternity. And this argument goes on and on. All reason (for most) stops at “In the Beginning God.” Nothing more has to be said. No more inquiries. No more thinking. It’s settled. (And this is why I fear “Intelligent Design” being taught as science in classrooms.)
Now you’re probably thinking that I subscribe to the Big Bang Theory. No, I don’t. The concept that something really tiny, in the vacuum of… what? suddenly expands and fills up what we call the universe? That doesn’t make sense to me either. It makes as much sense to me as an infinite being yelling out “Lights!” and creating everything.
Me, I subscribe to a third theory. I don’t know what it is, though. But they’re all theories. That’s all they can ever be.
I will not pick apart the Old Testament and explain verse by verse what’s wrong with it. (Like fire and sulfur coming down on Sodom and Gomorrah. Tower of Babel. Jonah. Earth standing still for a day. [I do believe that would tear up the Earth. But that’s science talking.])
One summer during my high school days, I was hiking through the Bendelier National Park in New Mexico with my aunt. We were collecting fossils. Now, New Mexico has been land-locked for tens of thousands of years. More likely hundreds of thousands of years. Yet, I have fossils from there. Christians say that they’re from the Great Flood. But I don’t buy that line of reasoning. It takes special conditions to create fossils. And even if it rained for 40 days and nights, how did so many clams get up there? I’m pretty sure they weren’t indigenous to New Mexico six thousand years ago? Then they say that God put them (fossils) there. But I’ll get to that later.
There are lots of stories that we’re told are true that just couldn’t possibly be. I find that unsettling.
The Bible Tells Me So
The Bible and most religions that use a “sacred text” fall under what I call the Fargo Principle. The movie “Fargo” has, at the beginning, has a disclaimer that says that the movie you are about to watch is based on a true story. But in reality it isn’t. (At least according to everything I’ve read on it.) But the movie says it’s true, so you watch it with that mindset. Religions are the same.
The Bible says it’s true. (I believe it’s in a Psalm, but if you know the book/chapter/verse, I’d appreciate knowing it.) Therefore it’s hard to argue with people whose basis for truth is something saying it is. (I know of someone who says he has an invisible Pink Elephant (or dragon?) in his garage. He says it’s true. How can I argue with that?
Now this isn’t just a Judeo/Christian method either. The Qur’an was given to Muhammad through Divine Revelations. The Mormon Church began after Joseph Smith had that chat with an Angel. Siddhattha Gotama achieved enlightenment/nirvana. Charles Taze Russell just rewrote the Bible into his New World Bible that the Jehovah’s Witnesses use.
So by saying a work was divinely inspired, it makes it true, no matter how far-fetched the writing in it is. It comes down to a bumper sticker: “God Says It, I Believe It, That Settles It.”
Time to Vote on the Will of God
The Bible was put together by a committee. Of course, they said they were inspired. (Can’t argue with that now, can we?) And if you know anything about committees, you know the processes.
Church leaders got together. They were a varying bunch, with different thoughts on Christianity, different ways to approach it. They got into a room, looked at the manuscripts, and said that one was truly the Word of God, but that one wasn’t.
Thus was born our Bible.
I however really doubt it was that simple.
James Madison, one of America’s Founding Fathers, wrote the “Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787.” It described the process of creating our Constitution. (It really is must reading for any American.)
And it wasn’t a pretty sight. They could have put a banner over the door that read: We Agree to Disagree. No one agreed completely with anyone else. And the finished document, our Constitution, didn’t look like it came from one person.
I had a cartoon I cut out of Leadership Magazine (for Christian ministers) that had two people on each side of a table and one man standing. The caption read (I’m paraphrasing, since I no longer have it): That’s three votes for, and two votes against. Any more comments on the Will of God?”
Like the creation of our Bible.