Through my work, I’ve had many opportunities to speak candidly with a lot of Christians. Raised a Catholic, I have a personal interest in finding if there’s something I’m simply not “getting” about this seemingly heinous and hypocritical system of beliefs based on the myths of the Bible. Rarely have I taken the opportunity to speak with a member of the clergy in equally as candid a way as other Christians, and when I finally had the chance, to my disappointment, I only found more circular arguments, hypocrisy, and blind adherence to a system that requires its followers to never question its wisdom and authority.
And has always been my position, my intent has never been to “debunk” this religious system; I started out simply trying to find answers; to find as many facts about the beliefs that I was brought up with. This particular religion requires a great deal of time and energy to participate in and our lives are so much shorter than any of us often realize, so it was important to me to be comfortable with the way I chose to spend my brief time in this fragile human frame of mine.
So, right to the point: It seems to be a consensus among all of the clergy I spoke with, that sin is at the root of all suffering, that we live in a “fallen” world, and that “original sin” is the root of all pain and suffering in this world (which includes all terminal diseases such as cancer and countless others). Also, it has been reiterated to me that it’s not our place to question the wisdom of the Biblical God (a necessary detail to get any follower to accept the vast brutality and cruelty inflicted upon the Biblical God’s creations), but that some things simply have no answers other than the ones the Biblical God privately possesses. As an integral instrument of my own creation, this didn’t seem quite fair to me.
Something that frustrated me most is that whenever I spoke with the non-clergy Christians I met, the “safety-catch” response that prevented me from delving any further was simply; “I would have to speak with my clergyman about that.” After repeatedly getting this answer once things got a little too close to a rational truth that jeopardized almost mechanically-held beliefs, I decided to go directly to the source; clergy. I hoped to get the answers that the Christians I spoke with were certain their clergymen had.
Unfortunately, whenever I reached a similar place of discussion with the clergy I spoke with, I received slightly modified “safety-catch” answer of; “Only God has those answers.”
Knowing that this was my starting point, I still tried to get rational and logical answers from those who are so convinced of their beliefs, that even when faced with overwhelming evidence, facts, and truths from their own Bible, they will simply recite the same arguments that they have memorized, instead directly addressing the facts presented by saying; “Only God has those answers.”
So, in the forthcoming articles on this topic, I will offer my favorite examples of the typical strings of logic that exemplify tactics I’ve personally seen used seemingly exclusively by those who desire be in a position of power, especially when it comes to religious systems.
TACTIC ONE: Equating two unrelated issues that seem to share some similarities, and then using them to arrive at an “objective” conclusion:
CLERGYMAN: “Hitler believed that what he said was true, that all Jews needed to be exterminated, and that whites are the superior race. He had many who believed him and agreed with him. Charles Darwin was also convinced that he spoke the truth; that humans evolved into the superior race/species, and this is the reason we have dominion over this planet. Two powerful people shared a belief that what they each spoke was the truth. But, if there was no objective truth, then both of these men would be right and that, obviously cannot be true.”
On the surface this seems like it could be a valid argument: After all, there’s no way I could argue that Hitler is beyond defense (although he has a lower body count than one other entity I can think of). But, what he was really doing, was trying to convince me that since Hitler was so passionately convinced he spoke the truth, then anyone else who also thought they spoke the truth could also be wrong. Ironically enough, the clergyman felt that he was exempt from this argument because he had the God of the Bible on his side supporting his position.
Either way, images of Hitler can evoke deep emotions in any of us, automatically giving this argument weight. But it’s false weight, and the only thing the clergyman was proving is that Hitler has as equal a chance of being right as he could be wrong”¦and nothing else. His basic assumption is based on the premise that since Hitler was wrong, so could (and in his mind “must be”) Charles Darwin. So, by consciously or unconsciously connecting and then misinterpreting the only valid conclusion, he seems to arrive at a logical conclusion when in fact, his conclusion couldn’t be further from the actual truth.
And that’s the same message presented by thousands of clergymen to their many followers. Using invalid conclusions from fundamentally flawed arguments as proof of the existence of something such as objective truth (the very “objective truth” that the Bible requires in order to have any authority over its followers) does nothing more than push the system they need to prove is true, especially since they’ve often chosen to devote their entire life to it.
And this is the same Bible that prevents anyone from questioning something that any relatively reasonable, rational person I know would have no choice but to question. The Bible has a finely-crafted method of excusing the vast number of atrocities outlined in vivid detail all in the name of the Biblical god. To have a God who goes against the basic moral values that he demands from His followers is one of the most incontrovertible pieces of evidence that the God of the Bible is a false god, created by fallible humans who’s agenda was to maintain power and control over a large mass of people. It seems to matter little to Christians that the Bible was written and re-written numerous times, edited by rulers who often used it an a tool to maintain control and stay in power.
And what disturbs me most perhaps, is that pro-Bible arguments have become such intricately-weaved devices, that it takes great effort for anyone to unravel them and find the unforgiveable truth that often lies at the heart of them. I also believe that many of the seemingly logical and rational arguments are specifically intended to go “over the head” of followers so they cannot be questioned by anyone other than those to take the immense amount of time and energy and risk to seek the actual truth contained within the pages of the Bible.
No one wants to feel stupid, so a desire to be a part of the “enlightened few”, led by arguments that seem so rational, researched, and so well-thought out, drives most to blindly agree, simply because the arguments sound so well-thought out and intelligent. Clergymen are supposedly the experts, so if this person who seems so smart is stating something as if it were fact, then who are any of us to question?
And this is the basic requirement that both the clergy and the Bible require in order to maintain control over its followers. It’s, by its very design, is a religion of lemmings who, statistically-speaking, never took the time to read the fine print of the pamphlet telling them to jump off the cliff to their deaths. I will never be convinced otherwise that simply reading the Bible, cover to cover, might have and still could save millions of lives.
We are human; it’s typically in our nature to question and to seek out truth. Adhering to just one Golden Rule of “Treat others as you would yourself,” if we don’t fully embrace who we are as humans, then I don’t feel we’re truly living our lives to the fullest, and therefore certainly not fulfilling our critical mission of living as awake and alive as possible.
Finally, some have accused me of using a passage from the Bible to guide my life by, but this only further reinforces my position; the above passage can be found in the writings of the Buddha, an entity who lived long, long before the man known as Jesus Christ ever walked the Earth. And this is just one passage of countless in the Bible that bear uncanny resemblance to stories, legends, and myths that existed long before the Bible was conceived.
I believe that writers had no way of conceiving that there would ever be something as all-knowing and powerful as the internet, which has united worlds of disparate information, placing it at billions of human’s fingertips. And as the internet advances, so does the continuing decline in the membership of some of the major organized religions. This, to me, is simply more evidence that information and education is what those in power have often feared most, because finding the truth is the surest way to lose that power.