Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Why Christianity Still Exists…

             I often ask myself, “How can people buy this crap!?” when I think about any religion.  Take Christianity for example; people worship a man who was supposedly the son of himself who sacrificed himself to himself.  Sounds crazy, right? I’ve just read “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis and towards the end of the book he does his best to describe the “Holy Trinity”.  As hard as he tried to make it sound sensible I couldn’t help but feel as though he was only trying to find logic in an illogical idea.  So you could try to argue how Jesus was both God and the Son of God all you want but it’s just plain ludicrous.  The fact remains that it takes some real ignorance to actually believe in a religion.

               I’m going to focus on Christianity for this topic because, as stated in previous posts, I’m most familiar with it.  I’ve been trying to gain a better understanding of Christianity lately.  I know all about the crazy, immoral parts of the Bible but for some reason Christians still have faith regardless of the facts.  My personal quest is to try to understand why this is.  Why is it that people can’t look at this religion the way that I do and see how crazy it all is?  I’ve come to some interesting conclusions on this very subject from the little research I’ve done so far.

               How has Christianity endured through centuries?  Here’s what I think: Christianity has survived for so long because one of its main principles is to not doubt God.  To not question God or his actions/inactions.  To have blind faith that the world is the way it is for some unknown reason.  So even those who might see how illogical it really is are forced (if they want to get to heaven) to just except things for what they are and let it be.  It has survived because it takes a tremendous amount of courage to “defy God” and really search for the truth.  If every Christian had that courage I would bet that Christianity would die out sooner rather than later.  Of course it requires less courage, though, if you haven’t had religious doctrine shoved down your throat since before you could walk or talk.  Christians indoctrinate their children before they reach the age of reason.  Once those children do reach the age of reason they have already been taught that “God works in mysterious ways” and doubting him is a sure way to end up in Hell.  Amazing what that creates, isn’t it?  A steadfast doctrine that is immune to rational thought.  Even if you can’t help but to question God it all comes back to having enough faith to trust that God has a plan and everything is all a part of that plan.  Which brings me to my next subject.

               The default position of all the horrible things that exist in our reality is that we could never understand God’s intentions.  And to try and do so would be impossible because God is beyond our comprehension.  That is the most frustrating thing I hear Christians say and I hear it all the time.  The amount of ignorance it takes to except a concept such as that is insurmountable.  If I told you that I was going to drink motor oil you would think I was crazy ask question me as to why I would do such a thing, right?  You wouldn’t just think that maybe I knew better than you and trust my judgment on such a thing.  So why do so with God?  I’ll bet if you’re a Christian you just caught yourself saying something along the lines of “Well, you’re not an all knowing, all powerful god” or something along those lines, right?   There’s no metaphor that I could use to get you to see the point because you’ve been brainwashed into thinking that your God is above and beyond anything and everything.  There’s a saying that the “fastest way to become an Atheist is to read the Bible”.  That book is full of contradictions, immorality, and fanciful ideas.  However, a Christian is indoctrinated to somehow ignore such things.  It’s unfathomable from where I stand on the outside looking in but such is the case.

               One other thing I would just like to lightly touch on is the story of Jesus itself.  From what I have seen one of the key points of this story preys upon one the greatest weaknesses of the Human race; emotions.  More specifically our empathy.  The very symbol of Christianity is the cross.  The object used to crucify Jesus.  We are bombarded with images of Jesus on the cross, bloody and broken.  We are told that all he the pain he endured he did so for us.  How ungrateful would we be if we rejected him and his teachings?  Instead we try so hard to feel his pain to remind us of what he did to a point that we can’t help but feel guilt for not believing in him. 

               It’s my opinion that either Jesus was a con man who undoubtedly duped the first Christians or he never even existed at all.  Maybe those who wrote the New Testament saw a chance to reform an already existing religion into something more to their liking.  And throughout the years it was edited numerous times to conform to others’ school of thought.  The most expertly crafted part being that to doubt the word of the Bible would mean eternal damnation.  And it is this very book (or rather the ideas within) that people having been both killing for and dying for centuries.

               Now let’s talk about one more aspect about Christianity.  The community that is so incorporated into this religion.  The sense of belonging to something greater than yourself.  It’s yet another fact that we Human Beings just can’t seem to avoid.  When you become part of a religious community it’s very hard to question doctrine when you are surrounded by it.  Outnumbered would be how I describe it.  It’s difficult to doubt when you’re constantly being reassured that your faith is all you need.  It’s hard to break out of something like that.  So, those who are forced into it when they are young know of no other way and see it as being the only way.  It becomes an “Us” against “Them” and joining “them” seems like an outlandish act. 

               While Christianity might die out eventually or maybe just evolve into some new religion it’s not going to go without a fight.  It will endure until everyone finally has the courage to question everything.  To except doubt as a possibility.  Then and only then will our race be free from the shackles of such oppressive doctrine.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pascal’s Wager: Are You Feeling Lucky?

           Okay, so the topic of this post is Pascal’s Wager.  For those of you unfamiliar with this, it is an argument theists use all the time.  Quite simply, it goes something like this: “It is better to believe in/worship God even if he doesn’t exist, than to spend an eternity hell if you are wrong about not believing in him”.  Blaise Pascal was a mathematician and religious philosopher who lived during the mid-1600s. What he was basically saying was that believing that God exists is a safer bet than not believing in him.  If you do believe in God and die and it turns out God doesn’t exist than it won’t matter anyways.  However, if God does exist and you die, by believing in and worshiping God you will go to heaven instead of burning in hell.  Better safe than sorry, right?  Wrong.  I will explain to you why below.

               First off, let me direct you to another blogger’s post and pretty much the main inspiration for this post’s topic.  This blogger tackles Pascal’s Wager in a much more in depth examination than you will get from me here today so I highly suggest you check it out for yourself here:

Now, let’s get down to it.  I hear it all the time, “What if you’re wrong about the existence of God? Are you willing to risk going to hell for your lack of belief?”  In my younger and much less wiser years I actually wrestled with this question quite a bit.  I thought that even if God didn’t exist it would at least be worth it to pretend there was a God “just in case”.  That is, until I started to learn about ancient civilizations and the religions that went along with them.  Most notably would be the Greek and Roman civilizations.  They, for the most part, worshiped the same Gods (notice the “S” at the end of God).  Learn about their mythology got me thinking, “What if they had it right all along?”  What if Zeus, Hades, and the like actually existed and the idea of the singular Christian god was just that, an idea?  It was then that I took notice at the fact that there are many different religions in the world both past and present.  Surely they’re not all right so what makes one set of beliefs more legitimate than the others?  The only real logical approach to this that I could come up with was that more than likely they were all wrong.  I mean, if you’re a Christian and believe without a doubt that your god is the one true god don’t you think the Greeks felt the same way about all of their gods?  All religious people have the same convictions towards their own specific religion.  Someone has to be wrong though.  The question is, who?  Maybe it’s the Christians that were wrong all along.

               Okay, let’s just assume for a minute that there is only one god; the God.  Now, you have another problem.  There are 3 major religions that people follow and all of them believe in the same god:  Jews, Christians, and Muslims.  So then, who has it right?  Although they all worship the same deity they do so by different doctrines.  Christians believe the road toward salvation lies in accepting Jesus Christ as your “lord and savior”.  Does that mean that all the Jews and Muslims are going to hell?  If you’re a Christian who believes in the Bible surely you must have to think that.  What if, though, believing Muhammad was God’s prophet turns out to be true?  Well it looks as though the Christians and Jews are on the “highway to hell”.  Are you getting the point yet?

               So maybe you’re a Christian and have some rebuttal to what I’ve already stated.  Maybe my interpretation of Christianity is all wrong, or maybe Jesus Christ really was the Son of God and so Christians are the ones who are right.  Well then, which form of Christianity gets you into heaven?  Whose doctrine should you follow?  Catholics? Baptists? Lutherans? Methodists?  Choose wisely because only one of them can be right.  The odds are stacked against you and the stakes are higher than you could have ever imagined.

               As I stated before, I highly recommend you read the other blog that I linked to in the beginning of this post.  The graphical representations alone will have you doubting yourself as a “believer”.  I’ve shown you only a couple of examples of other religions.  Take a moment to think about all the other religions that you know exist or have existed in the past.  What about the religions that might exist in the future?  Once you start to tally them all up you soon realize that the odds of being right decrease exponentially.  Now, let’s move back to the beginning.  There are essentially two points of view here: that of the Theist and that of the Atheist.  That’s a fifty-fifty chance.  Those odds aren’t too bad.  The problem arises once you break down all the different Theistic points of view.  You believe God(s) exist but there are many variations of Theistic principles.  So while you might have a one percent chance of being right in your beliefs about God(s), an Atheist has a fifty percent chance of being right.  I’ll take those odds any day.  As Steven F. Roberts once said, “I contend that we are both Atheists.  I just believe in one fewer god than you do.  When you understand why you dismiss all other gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”