Day 19 → What do you think of religion? Or what do you think of politics?

I first wrote this post in August and have never published it so I guess that says something to start with. It is not easy give up something you have believed for 32 years. These are my thoughts and the stuff in my head. I do not project onto you and ask the same freedom to walk this journey my way. After years of trying to make sense of things this is what makes the most sense. There is plenty I do not understand and properly will never hope to. But there is just too much not only unexplained by religion but also totally contradictory to all the science I see and read. I know science is not an absolute and that we are always challenging what we knew and proving more stuff, but it takes us further from the mould of the God and church I grew up with.

So here goes the post I never published.

I know there are 3 things that one is never supposed to discuss: religion, politics and sex and since I have covered sex and politics before I thought I would brave a post on religion. It has been mulling about in my head for ages. I finally feel ready to put a few of my thoughts down.

I am not knocking what anyone else chooses to believe, this has been quite a long process for me.

I was brought up Christian, we went to church twice a Sunday. I believed as I was taught. I will never say brainwashed as my parents are very intelligent people and their belief is very important to them. They always allowed us to make our own choices and we were encouraged to question things. Lively debates often took place around the dinning room table.

I came from a church where you did not just get a easy to understand life application story each Sunday, No, you got 45+ minutes of in depth teaching, words and meanings were dissected and cross referenced. I know my bible better than most. But try as I might I could just never ‘feel’ what you were supposed to feel. My dad who is a very not emotional person approaches religion in a totally logical way and does not rely on emotion so I tried that too, but to no avail. I could not get my head around it all.

First the creation thing, if I can’t find a way that God is the creator I can not believe in his supremacy over it all. Either you believe that evolution like science shows is real or you have to find a way to fit it into creation and neither way works for me. Yes yes you can quote my finite understanding and quote I have to have faith, but if God made me with a brain and says all creation points to him and seek and you will find kind of implies that he is not out to trick you.

If you believe in the New World theory that the Earth is 6 thousand years old and that a literal 7 day creation happened then you have to believe that all of science is wrong or that the world was created to look old – created antiquity. This for me amounts to saying that God made the world look old to fool people. WTF??? No I am not a fan of that theory at all. And while science does get some things wrong and is always challenging its own findings there is a mass of evidence for a world much much older than 6 thousand years. And please don’t say the carbon dating thing is wrong as proof.

Okay so there are those that say maybe it was both, that creation was not a literal day and they quote the day being a thousand years thing. But see that does not fit either because death of any sort only happened after sin ie Adam and Eve ate the apple and from then on the wages of sin was death. Before that nothing had died. So you could not have had millions of years for things to evolve and die and change. Without the fall of man and the moment of bible-defined-sin you do away with all the other things in the bible, it is all based on the need to redemption for sin. All are born sinner as descendants of Adam and so all need a Saviour. But if there was no literal creation and fall then there was no moment of sin that we all inherited and no need for a Saviour.

Then the whole election thing, Yes I was from an ultra reformed church, so if you think happy clappy is on the one end of the scale think the other side, as we affectionately like to know them, the frozen chosen. You believe that all people who are saved are known to God and it is only through him working in your life you are saved. This leaves something akin to survivor guilt. Why me, why not all the other people I know. The answer is always, through the grace of God and that none of us deserve it so we are just ?lucky? You could hold that view that ALL could come to God and that it is a personal choice but then you dilute Gods omniscience, either he knows everything and has planned and controls everything so therefor he controls those who are saved or he does not know and it is a big surprise who is saved. Neither sounds great. If he chooses then he condems a whole lot a people. The big question I always struggled with was WHY.

If you believe in a crucifixion etc why wait 2000+ years and have millions upon millions of people going to hell. I don’t get it. If it is all done and the sin problem has been dealt with why not just come and end all this suffering he is on control of.

The verse that always got me was the one about the peace of God transcending all understanding. This was never true for me it was torture. It made no sense. I am most at peace having looked at all this and deciding what makes the most sense is that evolution happens and we get this time and then we die. Things are random, there is no one controlling it all. For some this is not comforting but to me it is the alternative is that he allows all this. My way we are responsible and what we contribute, it comes from within. And sometimes bad things happen. And equally so sometimes amazing good things happen and nature and evolution and science can fill one with such a great sense of wonder and amazement and a strive to know more and do better as a person and as a part of the human race.

okay just had to get that all off my chest.

15 thoughts on “Day 19 → What do you think of religion? Or what do you think of politics?

  1. “Things are random, there is no one controlling it all. For some this is not comforting but to me it is the alternative is that he allows all this.” Pretty much sums up how I feel on the matter.

    It’s like those that point to the 0.01% of the time that something wonderful happens and then claim that it’s a prayer answered. Yet what about that other 99.99% of the time?

    If there is a god, which one is the correct one. I only believe in one less god than most of Christianity. The nice thing about not having a god is that I have to take responsibility for my actions. When I mess up, I take the blame, when I do good I get to claim the credit. Accountability is what it’s all about. After all, I can’t claim, “The devil made me do it.”

  2. I was planning to write mine tomorrow on the same topic – however I can’t. You’ve written almost to a word the same article I would have, and what was missing is in Robert’s comment. I came from the same type of church, and went through much of the same process.
    Perhaps I am harsher on religion as an instritution than you are as I see the massive abuse of power that permeates it’s history – but other than that, I can’t say anything about this you haven’t said better.

    I guess I’ll write about politcs then (again :P)

  3. This one is one tough question… but I did laugh at the “frozen chosen”
    I think it’s an awesome answer actually. I can’t take the whole bible thing literally myself.

  4. Interesting post Sally.
    I came from a slightly different background, dad was dead against religion, mom was semi religious. So recently I got Kathryn, my wife to explain how all the bits fit together. I understood, and excuse the bits if they are not 100% but it is all a bit murky, that there were 2 branches of religion originally. Most of the ones we know,from Christianity to Islam all come from the Abrahamic side. In other words, and excuse the simplification, but essentially, they all believe the same thing, apart from a couple of minor differences, and yet it is one the most divisive subjects in the history of man. From Pontius Pilot to the crusades, to the dark ages, to William of orange, to Henry VIII, to recently the Irish . Catholics vs Protestants. I mean surely they could have found a better reason to fight and murder than religion. I mean they believe the same thing just about. 

    Reverting back to your previous posts about books, The Lost Symbol was about Freemasons, and it seems they believe  man was made in Gods image. Man was the power to create life or destroy life. He is responsible, and must nurture that power.
    Robert’s post holds a lot water with me. You are ultimately responsible for all of your actions.

    If you go and look at the origin of the bible, Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD. Stories were kept alive by word of mouth, very very few manuscripts survived. They were only recorded as writing from about 150AD. How can one have day by day accounts of what Jesus did and where he went, without embellishment, and huge changes in the story.
    I mean you just try playing Chinese whispers with a group of 10 people in 5 minutes. Now try that with 5 generations and thousands of people over 100 years. Call me a doubting Thomas..

    I have settled on religion being something good. If you want to believe it and need the thought and comfort of something bigger and higher out there, watching over you, that is great. Others don’t need to have that, and that is also great. 

    Apologies for long post.         

  5. I went through a lot of arguments with myself, I attended various churches, I read many texts. I read the Bible twice in it’s totality. I read about Kaballa, Numerology, Hinduism, Krishna, Buddhism and a whole lot more.

    My thoughts are that anyone that studies religion in depth and has no doubts, has no reason either. The majority of Christians follow what the preacher, the padre or reverend says, They do no exploration, no questioning and have faith.

    Well sadly faith is and never will be enough for a boy with too many questions that remain unanswered.

  6. Must admit, I was nervous to read your views on religion and a lot of what you says reflects my views. Very nervous about writing my own now!
    Well written and I also loved the “frozen chosen” 🙂

  7. Excellent post – glad you published it.

    I find I need to believe in something bigger than me. Perhaps my brain just can’t wrap around the fact that everything is completely random. However, all your points are questions I’ve had and subsequently I don’t read the Bible or go to church because no-one can answer my questions.

  8. Alida – I’ve met very few atheists who think everything is completely random (The few I know are all pretty hardcore chaos theorist – who misunderstood the theory).
    Most atheists are scientist or fans of science -and we believe in cause and effect, a natural order that makes mathematical sense and has no exceptions – ever.

    Even human free will fits in (string theory has a very cool answer for it) … but our universe is predictable, testable and real… and since we don’t fully understant it, it is still there -bigger than us. The difference is, it’s never angry, it doesn’t have moods or whims. The forces bigger than us cannot be mean or kind… they just are – we can plan for them, we can try to predict them, and we can live our lives and choices freely because we never fear some skybeing.

    I respect your right to believe as you do, as I hope you respect ours, but if you’re to question what we think – it may help to understand it first 😀

  9. Thank you everyone for your replies. It is nice to know that others have grappled with this issue. Alida is in not easy to give up something you have believed for ages and at times I wobble, but to think things are random is actually rather comforting in many way.
    I am sure that there are many that disagree with me that have not commented and I understand that. I am actually surprised I was not attacked more.

  10. I must admit that I do struggle with exactly the same things. I am not yet at the point where I can truly say that Yes, there is a God who exists or No there is no Supreme Being. These are still things that I am working through. I have been trying to write this post all weekend but have yet to publish it because it just sounds so confusing and stupid and all over the place. It is really hard to turn your back on something that has essentially formed part of your identity for 30+ years and I applaud you for working through it and being so honest in your writing.
    Thank you for being brave enough to share this.

  11. The way I see it, what people believe in has a lot to do with how and what they were taught growing up, and what choices they are allowed to make.
    Provided people who have a strong belief in something do not try to force it on me, I say live and let live. If you truly believe in something or someone, showing people by the way you live is a lot more powerful than talking at them.

  12. It may be a little late to comment on this but thought I would anyway. I found the blog very interesting as well as the comments it generated. I think it is really essential for everyone to establish what they believe.

    You have outlined your thoughts clearly, however I would be very wary of thinking you know what others believe or how they approach this topic:

    “My dad who is a very not emotional person approaches religion in a totally logical way and does not rely on emotion”-I really have to disagree.

    Faith is not logical. By definition, faith is a strong or unshakable belief in something especially without proof. There will always be an element of emotion and there if definitely emotion in Dad’s faith.

    Day 19s topic was an opportunity to be able to air your views and I firmly believe that everyone should have this right. However, after reading it I had this niggling thought in the back of my mind and I wondered to myself, whether you appreciated/ respected others views who might not come to the same conclusion? Just my perception maybe… Take care.

    • Sarah the line you quoted about Dad said that he does not RELY on emotion, not that he does not have emotion in his religion. He does not let feelings dictate his faith, he relies on his knowledge of the character of God. He chooses to have faith at times when I know he does not feel like it. – that was what I meant. I have the utmost respect for Dad and the way he approaches things, he thinks and is very clear and not run by emotion.

      I just said I struggle to put verse like “all creation reflects the glory of God”, together with studying the earth and actually seeing that the opposite seems to be true. It sure seems like a way to confuse people and throw them off course by pointing to nature. Unkind and trickery. “Seek and ye shall find” is another, it is not that religion has to be comfortable or that it just has to suits me, but it does to some extent have to make some sense. I sound like I have to have all the answers and I don’t. I have tried time and time and time and time again to make it work, to do the Christian thing, to pray to surrender etc etc etc and I still feel nothing and come to the same sticking points.

      I can’t teach my kids science and about the world without telling them that all we know about it point to it being millions of years old and all the info we find point more and more to that direction. Science never claims to know everything but million of years and 6 thousand years is a big difference.

      I have many many Christian friends the best of whom have been those who have stood by me this last year and not condemned me for having a crisis of faith and moving away, they do not have to agree with me, or I with them but their unconditional support has been what has shone through, people like Barbara and others. Sadly many of my Christian friends have been amongst the most critical, judgmental and often just absent in their support. Even Mom who knows how I feel has never once tried to isolate me or bully me or change my mind, the same as I respect her and her beliefs.

      The thoughts in this post were why I could not believe anymore, my friends and those close to me know what I would never push that onto them and I respect their faith and their own way of understanding things. It is what makes life different and interesting. Anyone who believes anything does to a certain extend believe it to the exclusion of other things. It does not mean I respect or appreciate them less I just believe something different.

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