Brad Smith (jesus_h_biscuit) wrote,
Brad Smith
jesus_h_biscuit

The More You Know

It's been interesting to me to have so many people from different walks of life confide in me that they have had questions about their religious upbringing and doubts about whether or not they followed because it is what they were raised to do or because they genuinely believed of their own accord after careful consideration. I try to be careful to only explain my own views of such things and not come across as too great of an influence to deny or reject anything as this is tantamount to proselytizing if you're not careful and I don't care much for that kind of imposition. Instead I prefer to offer reason and logic that can be reinforced with science, philosophy, academia, and best of all the exposure to the contradictions within scripture that make up a lot of the subtext.

I know that for a lot of people the things I've read that shape my worldview of religion and theology are not only a bit challenging and difficult to swallow, but frightening in that they usually tend to counter a lifetime of firmly held conviction that may or may have not been one's own originally, but is still tethered to all the right guilt buttons within the minds of the religious adherent. If you read something from an atheist, agnostic, or skeptic that makes sense and exposes certain things you've once believed unquestioningly and it resonates with you, there's a whole battle that can take place that seeks to challenge everything you think you know - and you may come to a better understanding either way. For many people such things are sacriligeous and scary if only because it takes you out of your comfort zone and invariably forces you to ask yourself if in fact it IS all a bunch of lies and mythology. Believe me, I understand. This is frightening stuff to consider.

I suppose the responsible thing to do when questioning religion when there is a crisis of faith and an urge to seek answers is to offer information that you can arrive at on your own - read at your leisure and decide for yourself what you think. I was once offered by a close friend and devout Christian a book written by a famous pastor that was on the bestseller's list and was causing people everywhere to live their lives with renewed Purpose in the Christian worldview of this one mega-church leader. I took the book and offered one of my own in return, which was Michel Onfrey's Atheist Manifesto, because after all fair is fair. I was immediately asked by her why she should read it in a defensive, almost offended way to which I replied "Well, fair is fair. You know I'm an atheist and yet you want me to read this book in the hope that it will change me and cause god to speak to me through it, so it is only fair that I give you the same opportunity for the sake of fairness. If your faith is so unshakable then it won't matter, will it? You stand to lose nothing." She grinned at me and tried to politely decline but I told her that I was putting my money where my mouth was and willing to read her book as I had nothing to fear from it. She refused to read the Onfrey book but it showed just how much fear there is in unplugging from the religious Matrix.

There's something about the notion that knowledge is power that really resonates with me. Having grown up in the Deep South where ignorance truly is bliss and where intellectualism is considered dangerous by many and even in some cases is outright shunned, I always stood out a mile from my peers for any number of reasons at face value - mostly because while they were attending church services to repent for all their sinning and bad behavior the previous night, I was sitting there listening intently and thinking to myself What a bunch of completely useless nonsense! How in the world am I supposed to swallow this without question? Why in the world should I buy into any of this when none of it makes any sense whatsoever to me?" For the record, I learned early on that seeking such answers from church leaders would not only prove deeply unsatisfying, it would prove that they were nothing more than snake oil salesmen pushing their own specific brand and the closer you get to holding their feet to the proverbial fire, the more they are likely to write you off as simply needing to 'get right with god'.

In my experience the only thing that keeps ignorant people ignorant is laziness. There is no reason greater than laziness to explain how and why a person who has access to information, knowledge, and the tools required to use these things would choose not to employ them. In my opinion any faith worth having can withstand the weather, and any faith that cannot simply isn't worth having. I don't think that is unreasonable. If reading counterpoints that make more sense and in fact are more reasonable to you, wouldn't it actually be more harmful to continue to dwell in delusion? If you are a person of faith and you believe in the "one true God" - whatever version you prefer - does this mean you dismiss all other possible gods, like Zeus - Vishnu - Ganesh - Bodhisattva - Helios - Gaia - Olorun - Ancamna - Yamantaka? When you understand why you dismiss those gods you will understand why I dismiss yours. In that sense, we are actually both atheists - I simply believe in one fewer god than you do.

Read and learn and decide for yourself what to believe because it makes sense and stands up to scrutiny, not because someone tells you what you should believe under the threat of eternal suffering if you don't. You have to question that, even if you fear the possibility of it, when there is absolutely no proof that it will even happen. If you believe in god, believe that you were given a brain and the ability to reason as part of the free will clause that makes for such allowances. If you have the questions and not the answers, decide if it's time to find them or not. One way or the other, you have nothing to lose by working out your intelligence muscles - in fact, you only stand to gain.

I'm working on a post of eBooks that you can download and read at your leisure that will follow this post. There is sure to be something for everyone - perhaps multiple somethings - that you can read and share and grow from. Look for it later this evening.
Tags: ebooks, knowledge, philosophy, religion, theology
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