I recently received a note from a very nice Christian that contained the following.
No matter who has wronged you as a Christian or how God has disappointed you that you work so hard to explain Him away, He still loves you and wants to live with you forever. So do I!
Please forgive me for offending you.
I responded as follows.
No problem, ——.
I once said the very same things to others.
As you know, many gods have been explained into existence, and the christian god takes many forms in the imaginations of its emotionally needy constituents.
Pause to think about your motivations. Would you want to live in a world where there was no god? Do you want to live in an immoral world that has no moral accountability?
Your reactions to these questions are also based on the lies that you have been taught, coupled with your imagination and a lack of interest in empirical data.
Your entire concept of self and of others is informed by the bible and your emotionally based imagination.
This is why you must also imagine that those who do not believe what you do are resisting the obvious truth of a real and loving god that you feel is with you every moment of every day. Isn’t Jesus wonderful?
I know. I remember. I also smugly proclaimed what my heart confirmed was true.
However, I had no understanding of the frailty of the human mind, and its ability to conjure up all kinds of entities and notions that would make my emotional space warm and protected.
Why do I disparage this emotional space if it merely provides comfort to a naturally fearful mind? Because I have now lived on the other side: the side of cold hard truth. And it’s not nearly as cold as I’d been taught it would be.
In fact, this side of reality is amazingly warm, not from the inherent warmth of the environment, but from the existential heat I myself generate in the fascinated exploration of the real world around me.
No longer do I turn to a holy book that assures me it is true. I can assess claims of truth for their truthfulness myself without employing faith. I can also cheerfully say “I don’t know” when the evidence is unavailable.
It’s a far cry from christian dogma, and I’m sure it appears uninviting to you from the distance.
I would just encourage you to methodically assess each assumption you hold about who you are, the capacity your mind for self-deception, and the reliability of your emotions to identify truth.
You seem to have a good heart. Do you honestly think that you would become an evil person if a god was not part of your life?
I also encourage you to explore social environments that are distant from you. Is the “faith” of the muslims qualitatively different from your “faith”? Are the societies of more atheistic countries outside your own falling apart?
Remaining smugly within your biblical assumptions without such explorations will guarantee that you will continue on as happy as you are now. Perhaps exploring is a risk you do not want to take.
However, if truth ever becomes your highest prize, then I would dissuade you from your sedentary ideology and encourage you to ask real questions about your self and your world.
So on which side of reality are you? As someone who has spent a considerable amount of time and thought on both sides of the god question, I encourage you to reassess your relationship to reality and the foundation of your belief system.
Update. The following is a response to the above from a preacher with whom I have had regular interaction.
You spend a lot of time, and write a lot of words to try to convince other people that you are right in your rejection of Jesus. God still loves you, and Jesus Christ is still God. Why don’t you come back to Him, and acknowledge the God who is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and who is the source of all wisdom and truth? Your many writings are neither impressive or convincing. It is the Heavens that declare the glory of God, and the firmament that shows His handiwork. Jesus Christ, God’s Son, was born into this world, died for our sins, arose from the dead, and lives today and forevermore. Come back to Him, Phil, and find rest for your soul.
And the following is my response.
Repeating your beliefs, even with sincerity and conviction, doesn’t make them any less false. I do remember that it feels good to simple affirm what you believe over and over again, and I’m sure you also feel compelled to defend what you’ve invested you life in. Vested interests are often an insurmountable barrier to an honest exploration of truth.
If any of the promises in the bible of god’s supernatural effects in the world or in the lives of believers were evident, that would truly impress me. However, claims of miracles dissipate under scrutiny, and claims of changed lives offer nothing beyond the placebo effects also seen by changed lives in other religions.
My life changed positively by any measure after I left christianity. Christianity encouraged me to place faith in a god that would give me the wisdom and power to live a decent life. I was sincere in that, as you well know. However, the biblical promises failed. And this is only my own anecdotal account.
Test biblical claims of superior wisdom and behavior among christians against statistical evidence. What do you see? Nothing beyond what you see in other religions, yet all these religions persist in assuring us that their respective god is real, and all claim we know this deep in our hearts.
How long will you lie to yourself and to others about deleterious notions such hell and an afterlife? This life is so beautiful! Why waste it on hoping for a life in a heaven as promised in a book that has yet to keep any of its promises?
Puppetteering the emotional strings of young lives so that they abandon reason and believe out of fear things such an infinite punishment for a single lie is despicable. And for this you should be ashamed.
Religious leaders will first tell you that you are, by nature, a very “evil” person, and this makes god very angry. Once they have you feeling guilty for an “evil” nature you did not choose, they will then attempt to sell their version of redemption. Don’t fall prey to this emotional manipulation. We all have the capacity to be either malevolent of benevolent. It is through reason, not holy spirit hocus-pocus, that we understand the virtues of altruism, and learn to fully live the only life we have with wonder and amazement.