I recently finished two books, one after the other, about the historical (as opposed to theological) existence of the man we call Jesus. Jesus of Nazareth is the historical man. Jesus Christ in the theological man. The two books, in chronological order (but in my reverse reading order), are Bart Ehrman’s “Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth“, and Reza Aslan’s more recent “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth“. As you can surmise, both of these books explore the question of who the actual man named Jesus was, as opposed to the myths and religions we’ve created around him. In short, they attempt to analyze the latest historical scholarship about him, while regurgitating it for the layman. In the process they give their own considered opinion about exactly who Jesus was.
Because I was BORN an atheist. Two people I loved unthinkingly indoctrinated me into believing in something that didn’t exist. Key word – “unthinkingly”. The state of my knowledge at birth was the correct one.
Because religion, super-naturalism, has never explained anything. From the very beginning of civilization to the present, whenever religion has tried to explain previously mystifying natural phenomena (from lightning through mental illness to the size of the universe) it has always gotten it wrong. Always. It has not been right yet, and the odds are it will never be right, if we ever get to the point in human knowledge where we know everything.
Because religion is an inherently anti-human phenomenon. I’m a human, not a spirit. Religion explains spirits. There are no spirits, and there’s never been any evidence of spirits. As a human, there is a natural, logical way to treat other humans, and it does not involve burning them at the stake, making them believe what I believe at the point of a blade, or flying airplanes into buildings. Religion is cruel and inhuman, in almost all aspects of its justifying rationalizations.
Because I don’t need religion to be a good person.
I’ve been drawn into an interesting discussion on a few other blogs. It started the other day while watching the TODAY show as I dressed for work. Matt Lauer had his panel of “experts” addressing controversial topics of the day, and one of them involved “outsourcing” Christmas obligations, like shopping, card sending etc, and the propriety of doing so. In the course of the conversation, Nancy Snyderman said she didn’t like the religious element of Christmas, in effect, it’s what ruins it for her. It was a short exchange, not well fleshed out, but it was clear there was a disagreement between Star Jones, who felt “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” while Snyderman did not.
Everyone knows who the Duggars are, don’t you? You should. They are the clan (and I do mean clan) of 19 children, and a few grandchildren, that have made a career out of being big (i.e a large family from one womb) and Christian. They have their very own reality TV show that showcases their big family and their Christian values.
If you’re like me, you have a hard time ingesting current news, especially on the political front. The polarization of America is, front and center, the most perplexing aspect of current political discourse. Take for instance this fixation on defeating Obama, making him a “one term President” as Mitch McConnell promised early in his administration, during a time of economic crisis when millions of people were losing their homes, their jobs, and their way of life, and Congress should have been working WITH the President, not against him.
Atheists are often accused of being too outspoken, too militant, to strident. Our mere presence in society offends many people, all of them religious in one way or the other. Our existence is a reminder that the religious worldview is not the only one, that there is some possibility that they might be wrong about their beliefs in the supernatural, which beliefs forms a major component of how they deal with the day to day exigencies of life. We’re simply telling them that their beliefs, their vision of reality, could be wrong. Since there is an underlying current of insecurity in those beliefs, we make them nervous.
Did you ever have a dream from which you awoke that you felt was full of some monumental wisdom, something you never would have thought of in any of your waking moments, and you felt that you ought to get right up and put the dream to paper, knowing full well if you rolled over and went back to sleep, you’d completely forget it in the morning? And once you do, and you’ve had your second cup of coffee, and you analyze it, you realize it’s not only NOT a very monumental bit of thinking, it’s not even rational, and what made you even think it was so profound?
I spent so many years thinking all these silly vestments, and hats, and rituals, and incense and ringing bells and holy days all meant something. But it’s all just a way to make the flock feel like there is some significance to the equally silly pretensions underlying all religion. It’s just an elaborate smokescreen to paint a veneer of respectability over a much more insidious process happening outside our view.
There is far too much discussion about religion in this election. I don’t care who has the better theology, whether one is a better Christian than another, what god says about gays, vaginas or the price of oil for that matter. I don’t care what every two-bit preacher with a mail-order degree thinks. I don’t care what Obama’s pastor said once or twice in the 20 years he attended service in his church (that issue is old news and I don’t want to hear it re-hashed by Santorum).