I love walking. I tend to do about 5 miles a day. On my travels I walk past a variety of people, all of them a capable of good and all of then capable of bad.
For some reason, I realised the other day that if my faith in God has gone then any concept of a guiding hand protecting me has also gone. For example, what is to stop anyone from attacking me, and either assaulting or killing me when I walk past…
Christians talk about the tension of ‘free-will’ and ‘sovereignty’. God allows anyone to DO anything, but God is fully in control and in charge of everything that goes on.
Yup – I have never really understood it either. Anyway…
I realised that my comfort/protection was none existent whilst walking through a rough neighborhood near where I live. I am not trying to pass judgement on anyone (well… I do judge myself). Like a sudden punch in the face I noticed that even subconsciously, I had been telling myself that someone other than myself was protecting me and that the feeling of protection had gone.
It might sound a bit odd. But if you believed someone was watching your every action and in charge of everything, then they would also be the one to allow or stop the ‘bad thing’ or ‘good things’ happening to you.
When I realised and rationalised this feeling through it really knocked me for six.
Without faith, I have no ultimate comfort or justice that is overseeing everything. No one is stopping me from getting cancer. No one is stopping that drunk from getting behind the wheel of their car and hitting me. No one is protecting my children from the world around them.
I am alone – you are alone.
But then it dawned on me, we always were alone. Just because I have realised that I don’t beleive in God doesn’t actually change the state of reality, it just shifts my perspective, which shifts my mental state and how I feel about things.
When the good things happen, Christians inevitably say, ‘God is Good’. God gave me this job. God gave me two beautiful children. God gave me the resources I needed to get a house.
When the bad things happen Christians say one of two things. ‘God works in mysterious ways’, or ‘God gives and takes away’.
We apply God to the good. We fill our ignorance (as to why the bad things happen) with God as well.
We don’t have any evidence that either the good or the bad is God. We just reinforce our perceptions with our words. It is an insult to reason.
You see it is just perspective. What if there is no God. Sure, you might not be able to ‘believe’ there is no God right now, just like I can’t suddenly honestly ‘believe’ that Islam is correct. But take a step back, and honestly ask yourself what changes if there is no God. Everything? Nothing?
What if everything we know as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ isn’t from a divine being, but is rather just the perceptions we tell ourselves. Perceptions that are here due to the worldviews humanity has created. Cultivated from the stories we tell each other and our children (this includes all religions) for ages past.
I have been reading a book called ‘Why Evolution is True‘ by Jerry A. Coyne.
This book is shattering my sense of importance.
Christianity tells us that God created humans, that He breathed life into us, that He gave us the world, for us to manage and look after.
Evolution tells us this is a lie.
Christians, modern day science believing Christians, now assert that evolution is true. Adding in that at some point God distinguished ‘us’ (conscious beings) from everything else (none conscious or lesser conscious).
Again, there is no proof of this.
Just because the Bible tells you that you are created in the image of God, doesn’t mean you are. Even if you believe it, the only ‘proof’ you have is your own feelings and then the Bible, which is what you base your claims on in the first place.
There is no external evidence other than human belief to prove any of these claims.
Whereas evolution tells us that we evolved. That from a mindless process over millions of years humanity came about. Sorry to break it to you, but this is just part of a process spanning billions of years where everything in the Universe came into existence.
Evolution is a scientific theory and a scientific fact (read that book ^). We know we were not ‘created’, we evolved. Therefore we know we are not special.
There is nothing stopping the train I am going to travel home on tonight from crashing and killing everyone. I am not protected from a guiding force. The days of my life are not predestined. The hairs on my head (or lack of in my case) are not counted and known by a divine creator.
Humanity is not the sole purpose and reason for this world, or the Galaxy or the Universe.
We think things are perfectly tuned for humanity. When the truth is we are but a speck on the timeline of all life ever to be on this planet. 99.9% of which has already gone extinct.
We wouldn’t survive anywhere but this planet. That doesn’t mean we were created for this planet. This just shows once again that we have evolved within the conditions that this planet has set. We are here because here is the only place we could ever be.
It is nothing but chance, luck and evolution by natural selection that has brought us here.
This shouldn’t panic us.
Look at yourself in a mirror. You are formed from atoms that have been created due to stars dying.
Tell yourself that: ‘I am made from the atoms of long-gone stars’.
Realising there is no guiding force and that we are linked to this universe does a few things.
It makes the moments of love meaningful. When I kiss my children goodnight, I realise that this could be the last time I ever see them. When I say goodbye to a loved one at a funeral I look back at all they were and am thankful that I had them in my life at all.
I am not looking forward to a time after death when we will be united. That minimises the life of the one who has died. It minimises the life I live now and makes me strive for ‘then’. It reinforces the lies we tell ourselves to feel better.
Realising there is no guiding force also puts into perspective how lucky we are to be alive. There is no ‘second chance’, we are dealt the cards we have and it is our job to enjoy the now to the full extent of our ability.
I am not saying, ‘do what you want’. We are still capable of bad. There are still right and wrong decisions.
Realise that you hold your purpose. You have the opportunity to ask the questions of life and to push our knowledge on.
This raises questions, I know.
Questions about morality, justice, disability, equality, purpose, reason and truth. I don’t have the answers.
All I ask of myself is that I don’t cling to faith because I don’t know the answers to the most challenging questions within our world. That I don’t hope in a future redemption because today isn’t fair.
Realise that we are here, realise how we got here and realise that it is incredible.
What makes me, me?
I have been trying to work this through for a while. Is the person ‘Sam’ more important or less important than the framework that Sam acts from?
Frameworks are as vast as the people who hold them. I tend to think this is because the beliefs we hold often make the person, rather than any tangible soul or essence as scripture would teach.
Say for instance you are a Vegan. It is highly unlikely (maybe not even possible) that you would just choose one day to become a vegan for no reason at all. The chances are, you have an opinion about animal welfare, or you were raised within a belief framework that holds to a strict code, one you might never have questioned. Or maybe you want to impress that rather pretty girl, or a handsome boy, who happens to be a Vegan.
Regardless of the reason, you are a Vegan because your beliefs instruct you to act in that way.
I find it fascinating to realise that I, ‘Sam’, isn’t actually a person. What Sam is, is a conscious being with a bunch of feelings, beliefs, hopes, fears and opinions (realised and subconscious). These all get built into a framework that gives Sam an output.
I am a conscious being. But without a framework to view the world through and to act from within, I am fairly lost.
These frameworks can be amended, adjusted and adapted. They need to be. Without the ability to change and adapt we would stagnate and cause harm to ourselves, or others.
I could become a Vegan because my framework changes as I read and discover more. I could also become a Vegan because I realise my framework for thinking it is ok to eat meat, and the actions I live out because of that gets knocked. Maybe my meat eating has no basis at all, maybe I realise one day that I am a creature of my upbringing and just accepted meat without a thought.
Whatever happens, we can adapt. But we don’t always choose to.
Humans like comfort and they like the known.
I know a lot of people who believe in and follow the Christian God. Their religious framework is intrinsically built into their lives, so that everything hangs off it.
If something was to knock the basis of their belief, their whole world would fall apart. So if they get close to that they have two options.
- Continue to dig and question, to see what foundation their framework is built upon and then respond.
- Or to blindly believe what they always have and stop the excavation where their belief fossils can be found and examined.
Every person whom I have told about my unbelief to date has told me to let go of my doubt. To believe and to reinforce my belief by focusing solely on Christian things, and there to find comfort.
People cling to option 2 because it gives them stability. It answers questions easily, questions which they fear the real answers about. Questions about death, family, sexuality, reason, purpose, morality and likes.
They claim that without God there is no framework. So then how do those without God manage to continue on?
You see, I don’t want a framework for the sake of having a framework or for the sake of having stability. I want to get as near as I can to understand the substance behind this world and to be able to make an informed decision based on evidence. I want to build a framework that is changeable and adaptable as we (humanity) learn and grow into the future.
If the framework I fall upon again is Christianity. Then I choose comfort and embrace peace, and many close friends and family would be delighted. But if I was to remain a skeptic and renounce my belief in Christ publicly, to them I would be lost and they would be confused.
Everything would then fall into question for me, and to those looking on. I would be a problem. As I begin to tackle the bigger questions in life without the comfort of a personal God.
‘Sam’ is important to his friends. But Jesus is more important than anything to them. Yes, Jesus (and that includes their feelings, thoughts and beliefs about Jesus and the Bible) is more important than Sam.
If Sam is following the Lord, then I am is understood and I’m more easily able to be rationed out and related to.
But if Sam loses his faith then he embarks on a life unknown to most who currently relate and engage with him.
When my framework crashes to the ground I have to rebuild my beliefs on a none Christian course. I then have to explain my unbelief to everyone, because people will ask. ‘Why did you leave work?’ ‘Why don’t you go to Church anymore?’ ‘Why do you say such un-Biblical things?’
Those closest to me will be trying to draw me back to a personal Faith in Christ for the rest of my life. Because to them, it means everything to follow Jesus, and without Him I have nothing.
I know that my belief in Jesus is more important that I am. Why? Well because if I was a Christian it would be more important to me as well.
I am sorry but it is true.
Rather than asking where I am at, and what that means for me and my world, I am told that I am wrong and then I get to see the look in their eyes change. Rather than understanding from them, I see doubt, hurt, questions and regret.
The label, ‘What could have been’, is placed over me. Titles such as ‘unbeliever’, ‘heretic’ or ‘apostate’ are applied. I am a lost cause within their framework.
To them, the person of Sam is genuinely less important than the framework that Sam believes in.
Let that sink in for a moment.
I am important. But I am not as important as my belief structure and confessions.
Some may try and spin this around. Tell me that Christ died and rose for me and not my belief. But that isn’t true, is it? God died, rose and God needs me to believe in Him or I am outside of Him. And if I am outside of Him, then His death and resurrection becomes meaningless within my world. (I am not saying anything about the actual proof of a God, or Jesus’s death and resurrection here).
As if I have a choice within my doubt! You don’t chose doubt.
We all have something that makes us, us. Our beliefs, upbringing, ideas, friends, families, hopes and dreams.
What makes me – me, and not you, is that fact that I am asking some damn hard questions and am willing to be honest with the answers as they come up in the process.
I had a known framework, a Christian one that encompassed everything. But that seems to have been shattered and somehow I feel so very alone… It is time to keep asking and to really see what makes me – me.
_End of Blog Blurb_
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. It has taken me a few years to get to a place where I am able to share about my loss of faith and to start writing about the journey that I am still on for you all. I hope you find it useful.
Grammar, spelling, capitalisation and punctuation: I am massively dyslexic. It has taken me years to get to the level I am currently at with writing and I have done this mainly through reading. I want to be better, and ask you reader to please forgive any errors in my writing. I hope you notice improvement upon improvement over the coming years.
Time Frame: This blog is roughly six to nine months behind where I currently am at in my journey out of religion. It’s important to remember that when reading and commenting.
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I’ll see you back here at the same time next week 🙂