Sunday, March 25, 2012

Struggling with Christianity

I am a Christian and I struggle with it

I have been a Christian for about the last 11 years of my life. Lately, I had this feeling that something was wrong. I couldn't put my finger on it, and one day found myself reading hubs written by atheists. One in particular, was written by a guy named Mark. His hub talked about how self righteous and hypocritical Christians are. I found myself strangely drawn to this hub and the several hundred comments that followed. What was the most fascinating to me, was that I agreed with almost everything he said. I found myself trying to empathize with this atheist and actually cheering him on, in spite of his vile and hate-filled statements. As vile and hateful as he was; he was right on almost everything he said. I am going to come back to this but I want to lay a foundation for my struggles as a Christian?


Who is really right?

How many different religions are out there? Does anyone really know? Here is a harder question. How many different "Christian" doctrines are out there? You have the main ones like the Catholics, the non-denominational Christians, Jehovah's witnesses, Mormons, the Born again Christians, Baptist, Southern Baptists, Nazarenes, and forgive me for the ones I left out. Within each of the above named "major" Christina religions, each of them contain several different "doctrines" that have different beliefs. For arguments sake and the sake of easy math I am going to say there are at least 50 different doctrines that all wear the title "Christian" in some way or another. But here's the thing. They all say "their" doctrine and beliefs are correct and the others are wrong. Some of them (like the Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and Catholics) are so adamant that they are right and everyone is wrong that they believe the other 49 doctrines are all going to hell. Even though they all read from the same Bible, follow the same God, and believe in the same Jesus. Is it any wonder why so many atheists look at us like we're the crazy one's? We can't even agree among each other.
So how does one decide which "doctrine" is the "right" doctrine? Bible scholars have agreed forever, that the Bible was meant to be interpreted. If anyone wants to argue this with me, then please tell me when was the last time you gave someone a "Christian Kiss?" It is clearly in the Bible that when we meet other Christians we are to greet them with a Christian Kiss, so why don't we do this? Because somewhere along the way, as society changed, someone decided that it was not necessary. What about the sabbath? How is it defined? Even in Jesus' day, there was much debate about what could be done on the sabbath and what couldn't be done? Some rabbi's said you could walk one mile on the sabbath, but no more. Another rabbi would say that you could walk 3 miles, but no more. Are we to believe that whether or not I spend an eternity in hell is based on how far I walked in a day? In the Bible Jesus said his "yolk" was light. What a lot of people do not realize is that a "yolk" was a particular set of beliefs that individual rabbis held. See my example about walking on the sabbath above. Each rabbi had a certain set of beliefs and that was described as his yolk. My point in that, is that if you have not studied Judaism, then you would likely not know that. That verse in the Bible would very little meaning to you, or you could easily miss the entire point. The Bible was written mainly in Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic. If you try to read the Bible in modern day English, then you will miss almost all of the major points in the Bible. If you don't understand Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, and the culture of Jesus's day then you cannot understand the Bible the way it was intended. How do you say that "your belief" is right and someone else's is wrong when you can't even understand the original context in which the Bible was written in?
People typically base their belief system on what they learn in their Church. Did you know that Rabbi's have the entire Old Testament memorized? In fact, they have it memorized by the time they are 15 years old. When Rabbi's want to get a better understanding, they get other Rabbi's together and they pray and meditate for days, sometimes weeks at a time. Then they discuss it together as a group to try to come to a collective agreement on the scripture. Does anyone know any Pastor in our modern "Christian" Churches that do that? I have been to at least 30 different "Christian" Churches and I have never known a Pastor who had the entire Bible memorized and regularly met with other Pastors who had the Bible memorized to study a particular scripture for weeks at a time. So, how can I put a whole lot of faith in what my Pastor says? Especially when I can find several thousand Pastors that completely disagree with him? Again, how do we know who is right and who is wrong? Especially since some Pastors claim that my Pastor is so wrong that I will be going to hell because I listened to him.
I am sorry but I really struggle with that.


The authority to decide

Where do these Pastors and experts get their "authority" to put out doctrine that determines who goes to hell and who gets heaven? Is is The Bible? Well, I have already discussed that these experts and "Church Leaders" can't even agree on a single interpretation of The Bible, so that's out. I don't know where they get it, but I am here to say I don't have it. I am fan of Rob Bell. Rob Bell has a unique outlook on Christianity. He has studied Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, and Judaism extensively. He is also one of the most criticized Pastors in the country right now. He preaches messages about God's universal love for everyone equally. He questions the religious interpretations of all doctrines and cautions people about being too judgemental and harsh. Yet, he is constantly being bashed in the media for teaching the "wrong" message. I believe people are entitled to their opinions but if you are going to criticize Rob Bell, then wouldn't it make sense for you to be an expert in Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, and Judaism? What if you don't know anything about those things? Should you even be opening your mouth? By what authority can someone criticize someone who is an expert in his field when you have never even studied the field like he has? What do you call that person? Should a person who is morbidly obese, and extremely deconditioned really be slandering a fitness expert? Should a homeless person really be qualifying whether or not Bill Gates really knows anything about computers?
The Bible is very clear that "all have fallen short of the glory of God." So who gets to decide who fell too short and who fell short, but they were close enough? It is a common theme for Christians to say that homosexuality is wrong and if you are gay then you are going to hell. Why is that? Does God put "varying degrees" on sin? I am pretty sure He doesn't. In fact, I am pretty sure that to God "sin is sin." If that is the case then how is the homosexual different from the person who looks at another woman with lust in his eyes? Is he condemned because he struggles with that sin? What if he never cheats on his wife? What if a guy has angry thoughts? The Bible says angry thoughts are like murder in God's eyes. If the homosexual has to go to hell then wouldn't these two guys also? So who gets to decide which sins are ok and which ones will absolutely keep you in hell forever? There are only two references to homosexuality in the New Testament. One in Romans and one in 1 Corinthians, and neither one of them say you are absolutely going to hell for it. In fact, the Bible speaks more about greed, money, and power than homosexuality so why don't we place more emphasis on those? I know several homosexuals that are loving, peaceful, God fearing people. I know several Christian groups that are hate spewing, condemning, criticizing, judgemental, vipers. Am I to think the hate spewing Christian has a place in heaven but the good hearted homosexual is cast out? Sorry, but I don't think so.


The cosmic Quiz

The way most "Christian" religions treat salvation, is like a cosmic quiz that you must answer correctly or spend an eternity in hell. The problem with the quiz is that the study materials are so ambiguous, there is no way to know if you are studying the right material. Especially since the study material was written over the course of 4000 years, more than 2000 years ago, by over 40 different authors, in more than 4 different languages, and was written for a culture that I cannot possibly begin to comprehend. But if I fail the test I go to hell forever? I am sorry, but I just don't think that is what God had in mind.
How is that something that is so ambiguous like the Bible can be the road map for something so eternal and final like my eternal salvation? Don't get me wrong, I completely believe the Bible. But I believe "MY VERSION AND INTERPRETATIONS" of the Bible and so do you, if you are a Christian. And so do the Mormons. And the Catholics. And the Baptists. And the Nazarenes. And the............ you get my point.


What I learned from the Atheists

I want to start this by saying I have a new found appreciation for Atheists. Most of the ones I talked with were quite civil and willing to engage in meaningful conversation with me. One thing that I found similar with Atheists and Christians is that they both mistake faith and facts. They both have a belief (even though Atheists claim they have no belief) yet claim them as facts. The problem is neither side can prove their "facts." Christians cannot prove that God exists, just like Atheists can't prove God doesn't exist. And before some "hell, fire, and brimstone" Christian wants to try and tell me their "proof" that God exists, you can't. Because if you could prove that God existed then it would no longer be faith. It would be fact!
It seems to me that in the Bible, when God wanted people to know "He was real" he came right out and showed them. He made bushes burn, He spoke, He blinded them, He raised people from the dead, etc. He made it abundantly clear that there was no mistake who He was. Well, He hasn't done that for me yet. It doesn't mean I don't believe in Him, because I do. It just means I don't think I have all the answers. I am also not an expert in Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, and Judaism so I can't possibly think, with any integrity that I even comprehend half of what God wanted me to get. What I learned from Atheists is that I ma not going to convince anyone that God is real, based on facts. And I'm ok with that. It's my faith that allows me to believe in God, and that's enough for me.
I don't understand God. I don't "get" Him. And I am ok with that, because if I could truly understand and comprehend God then He would cease to exist because I would "be God." And if you know me at all, you know that aint happenin.


So, what does Victor believe?

First of all, I believe in God. I believe in Jesus, and I believe in the Bible as best as I can understand it. I am constantly trying to grow in my faith and learn more. I don't know if homosexuals go to heaven. I don't have a problem with them. It's not for me, but I am not bothered by them. In fact, I know some pretty cool people that are awesome and are living in same sex relationships. I don't know which doctrines are right. If I was forced to choose which one was right, I would say "none of them are." They all have some flaws in my opinion. Sometimes I think God is up in heaven saying "Holy Crap! These people don't get it at all!" and other times I think He is lovingly looking down on us saying "Guys, stop sweating the small stuff and just love each other." I honestly don't have the slightest clue and I am not going to act like I do.
I hope I get to see everyone I know and love in heaven. I hope pop tarts are not unhealthy for you in heaven. Oh, I miss pop tarts so much. I hope I see all my homosexual friends that I love in heaven. I hope I figure stuff out in heaven that stressed me out on earth. I hope I see all my enemies, and can be completely reconciled with them in heaven. But ultimately, I don't know what to expect.

So, in the meantime I am going to continue to do as many things as I can in the name of God. I am going to keep feeding homeless people every Saturday. I am going to keep volunteering in my Church elementary Sunday School class. I am going to keep being a foster parent and rescue as many children out of that horrible system as possible. I am going to keep trying harder and harder to forgive those who hurt me. I am not going to do these things because I think I am righteous or because I am trying to "earn" my way to heaven. I will do them because I am so grateful for my faith in God and what I believe He has done for me in my life. If I could live a hundred years and be completely perfect, I couldn't make up for all the wrong I have done. I am grateful for the second chance I believe God gave me. I am grateful that God could love someone as terrible as I once was, and sometimes still am. And since I can't pay Him back for my salvation, all I can do, is what I think He wants me to do. And I think He wants me to do these things.

No, I can't prove it, but I don't care. If you don't agree with me, fine. But shut up, and let me help people. Don't try to convince me that I am wrong and there is no God. I don't care what you think when it comes to my God. But know that if you ever need help, I will be there for you.
because it's what I think God wants me to do.


  1. Vic, Well thought out. You should include links to the other people you mention (Rob Bell, etc).

  2. Love It Victor!, Its refreshing to have found a like minded spirit in this world =)

  3. Thanks Sean. I look forward to your feedback.

  4. Victor - reading over your blog thus far, I honestly don't find much to object to. The issues that I, as an atheist, have with faith and religious dogma have nothing to do with you, nor with how you want to live your life. You weren't responsible for the Crusades, the Inquisitions, the various Witch Trials, nor do you advocate bombing medical clinics. You do not pronounce that all unbelievers must be put to death. The only way you would ever earn my opposition is if you decided to take part in making your religious views a part of government, law, or education. I think you're a reasonable enough fellow to appreciate the elegance of a secular state. A secular government is not "anti" religious. A government needs to be secular in order to adequately protect the freedoms of all its citizens...and the idea is, the government exists to serve the people, not the other way around. Science does not say, "God doesn't exist." I myself will tell you there might be a possibility of something like God existing...but that is much different than dealing with things that are known and provable, such as the properties of water, the periodic table of the elements, and so on. As an atheist, I find no evidence that supports the validity of your beliefs. However, atheism is NOT a religion, or a faith, or even a belief. It is the lack of such things. It's neither impossible nor improbable that you and I could not only get along, but eventually become friends. Why? Because, my wife believes in the existence of God. However, she understands the need to respect people's right to live their lives in the manner that they wish, so like me, she thinks that the public sphere needs to be effectively "neutral"...which, by the way, is exactly what science is. Science only knows what it knows, and what it doesn't know, it doesn't know. That's why I can tell you I don't know for a certainty that something like God doesn't exist. I can say that there isn't empirical evidence that is observable, nor anything objective that might be experimented with.

  5. I have included a link to an awesome youtube clip that I think will put some more light on number and details of the different denominations of Christianity. Please take the time to watch the clip as I took the time to read your blog. Thank you! :)

    I certainly agree that no one has all the answers, however I would suggest that atheists don't have a belief in any god or gods, it's a lack of belief based on the lack of evidence. What facts that they do know are backed by evidence and when new evidence is shown to be real it is taken into account and that changes the previous view. Fact is atheists don't rely on faith because in our lives what would we really want to base on faith? We know that faith is belief in something regardless of contradictory evidence or a lack of evidence. A really good way of looking at it would be through a youtube clip, from darkmatter2525.

    I'm not trying to deconvert you but I'm trying to show you a few things you might not have had the chance to see. I certainly think your blog has potential and I look forward to see where your questions and reason take you. Ultimately as long as you live the happiest fullest life you can and don't negatively impact on others it's all good. I commend you on your actions as a human being and would like to say keep staying true to yourself. Also would suggest whatever you consider to be "all the wrong you have done" as something of the past, we can't change the past but we can change the future.

    If you want a really interesting, honest, polite deconversion video on youtube I also know of a few from the same person. It was a very interesting watch for someone who never grew up believing to see what it was like for someone who really truly believed and how they were able to come to the same process of thinking that all atheists have come to.

    You say to shut up if we are trying to convince you there is no god. I'm only trying to convince you to continue to look at what atheists are saying and to continue to test your faith.

    Being around for someone no matter who they are, what colour skin they got, what gender they are, what they do or don't believe, the age they are and so on is defiantly most important. If all religious people were like you we would all be living in a better world.

  6. John,

    THanks for reading the blog. I wrote an essay once on my thoughts about religion in government and politics. I think you will agree with alot of what I feel. A friendship would be ideal, as would your continued feedback. I am, not sure where this journey will take me. I only find myself very comfortable when being attacked, by either atheists, or unfortunately, even my christian brethren. I ahve to admit I expected the heat from atheists, but I was surprised at the response I received from my christian friends. I am working a on a blog about it so you can read about it soon.

    Again, thanks for your encouragement and I look forward to future talks.


  7. Warick,

    I watched both videos as you requested. The first video about the division in the chirch is obviously something I could relate to since I covered the same issues in my blog.

    The reason I say atheism is a belief is because that's how I feel based on conversations with atheists. Like I said, it's how I feel. I am not saying that it is a "fact" that atheism is a belief, it is just what I think. I am working on a blog that describes why I feel that way so you will be able to get more insights on my "belief" when it is done.

    The second video, I just found annoying. I get the point it was making, but it really exagerated some issues to make a point. THats ok, to do once in awhile, but it kind of went too far, in my opinion. Especially, the part about trying to "sell" you on God. I understand that alot of christians try to "sell" God to people, but i don't. And sisnce I don't try to sell God to people, I didnt feel I could relate to the video. Like I said, I realize it is done to people, but since I don't feel I do it, it didnt really speak to me. nonetheless, I want to thank you for sharing it with me and offering the other perspective.

    As you can see by the Mr. Deity blog, I am always open to challenging my faith and I have been challenging my faith for about a year now. I am also working on a blog that describes why I believe what I believe. I think if you read it, you will find that my faith is pretty solid and it is rooted in more than just "Sunday School" stories or what I was told in church.

    Please feel free to send more videos my way. I will do my best to watch them all but if you look at my facebook page, I am very active on it, and I get a lot of people sharing videos with me. If I don't respond to a video, it's not because I don't care, I am most likely overwhelmed. If you post it in these comments, I will get to it eventually.

    Thanks agian for contributing and encouraging my journey.


  8. Has anyone tried to sell you another faith? If the answer is no then I can understand how you can't relate to the second video. I don't see it as going too far at all, but I can understand how you might.

    Very glad the the first video was something you related to and were able to get something out of.

    You believe atheism is a belief, I personally see it as a lack of belief in any god or gods. Kind of like how not collecting stamps isn't a form of collecting, not believing isn't a form of believing. At least I've never seen you call atheism a religion. I'm happy for you to continue to see atheism as a belief, I was just suggesting that it's not a belief but a lack of belief based on my understanding.

    Thanks for the response and watching the video clips, very good to see that you have done what was requested. If you ever want feed back on anything or have something in mind you want me to watch let me know.

    I look forward to reading more posts in your blog to grasp a better understanding of not only where you are coming from but also how you managed to get where you are. I certainly want to see your journey continue.

    So anyway I'll share with you the clip I was talking about in reference to the person who de-converted. He made a few of them as he wanted to into detail and he also wanted people to know just how much he did believe. If you find him interesting and intelligent after watching one of his clips, please continue till you reach the end of his deconversion.

    Thanks heaps! :)

  9. Hey Warick,
    I will give you some details as to why I think atheism is a belief, but I am blogging on it, so I dont want to put a whole blog in a comment. And please remember, I am not saying it "is" a belief, I am just saying "I" see it as a belief. I understand it is totally subjective. To illustrate my point, I will use your example of "not" collecting stamps. If people who didnt collect stamps became extremely organized, and started making youtube videos about not collecting stamps, started blogs, held annual events, sought out media attention, created a logo for themselves, did things in the name of defending their right to "not" collect stamps, bought billboards, etc... If non stamp collectors did all those things, they would eventually get a title. Once they got a title and created nation wide recognition for themselves, the concept of not collecting stamps would go from a very obscure idea to a mainstrem trend. Eventually, through things like the urban dictionary, slang terms, and social media, it would be adopted as a "belief."

    That is why I think the way I do. And let me remind you again please. I dont mean for it to be disrespectful to atheists. I just personally think it carries a list or system of beliefs.

    Thanks for stopping by.


  10. I look forward to your blog on the subject of atheism being a "belief," Victor. I'm certain I'll have a response after you post it, and I read it...even so, since it was brought up as a subject here, I'll touch upon the essential fallacy of your positional statement.

    I'm sure you are familiar with the source of the term "atheist," so I won't delve into that here, except to state that it was originally employed by the faithful majority as a pejorative label for people who didn't harbor that same faith. Accordingly, atheists were persecuted for hundreds of years in various cultures and societies across the face of the earth, suffering disenfranchisement, imprisonment, and even death at the hands of the theocratic establishment. True to form and the pattern of history, no religion has left quite the blood-soaked trail of dead atheists as Christianity. Islam comes in a close second, perhaps. We are the godless sinners, the Satanically-inspired rebels who foolishly proclaim in our hearts that God does not exist. We are the foes of the absolutism of dogma and the corrupters of children, all because we lead lives free of the tyranny of belief.

    It is, in fact, the hubris of the faithful that belies their warped perception of the business of living and experience. To the faithful, theirs is the "default" mode of thought and conduct, the right way of conducting oneself, and the way it's always been. To assume any other mode of existence is to exist in rebellion to the intrinsic order of life, the universe, and everything. You have expressed possession of this belief. This is partially what makes religious belief so toxic in the first place: it is pathologically narcissistic in the arrangement of the cognitive scheme, the very epitome of the adultress of Proverbs who wipes her mouth, and exclaims in surprise, "what have I done wrong?"

    We see this expressed in the rueful annals of human history, a saga drenched in the blood of the slain. The rise of religion from the darkness of our primordial past served as the source of all answers, the bane of intellectual inquiry, and an authority that claimed absolute, totalitarian dominion over Homo Sapiens by virtue of divine decree. While religions resemble one another in essential construction, each cannot abide the existence of the other, for anything but itself cannot control the Order of the Earth.

  11. Part 2
    Atheists were not the only ones exterminated by the might of holy vengeance...long before the dawn of the age of reason and the birth of science, the acolytes of the God, gods, and spirits were slaying one another in their faith's bid for dominance. This warfare still persists as I type this response, in a day and age when humanity understands more than they ever did before.

    A history lesson is not called for here...or is it? I wonder about that, Victor. For someone who seems to be so reasonable, you evidence a startling lack of understanding as it pertains to the religious dominance of human civilization for the past 8000 or so years. I might be tempted to think that your faith blinds you to reality, because that is, in fact, a side-effect of its possession of the human mind.

    Why do people, who share the common characteristic of a lack of faith in ecclesiatical authority derived from the existence of deity, find it necessary in the modern age to band together under a common banner? Is it because we share some form of sneaky faith, a belief in a materialistic deity figure? Before I go any further, I should pause and point out that such an assertion - that atheism is a belief of some kind, because atheists apparently enjoy one another's company - is precisely the sort of empirical evidence of cognitive imbalance that explains why religious belief can be so dangerous. It's typical of the irrational circles theistic thought is trapped in, infinite cognitive recursive loops incapable of solving their own dilemmas.

    Back on track: atheists have been gathering together as a community for the express purpose of defending our human rights. It is a necessary response to the constant assault we experience, on a daily basis, from the religious elements that have dominated our societies for so very, very long. We don't want to see a return of the days when we were burned at the stake, beheaded, shot, or thrown into dungeons for our lack of belief. It's an activism that has been gathering steam for some time now. We also don't want to see the scientific progress of the human race eliminated by the fanatics of faith. It's no secret that there's a eucemenical movement afoot by Christians in the United States to usurp the rule of law and reason with divine edict and dogma. A secular government is godless and evil, right?

    I would encourage you to open your eyes further, Victor, and attempt to view us without the lenses of your programming. You might see people desperately fighting for their right to live live free of your control.

  12. You are defiantly right John. I need more education about history. I study it all the time, but there is so much history and so many perspectives that it is difficult. If I waited to be a wise scholar before creating this blog, then I probably would have never done it.

    LIke I stated before, this blog is not about defending christianity. And although I will look into everything you have given me, I am not interested in debating the validity of christianity on my blog. I do it on Facebook all the time so feel free to post on my timeline. I have over 100 atheist friends and they post on my timeline all the time to either try and get a "rise" out of me or get a debater going with some of my christian friends. There is an unwritten rule that if you are easily offended, to stay away from my face book page.

    So, I have no problem with you cut and pasting your comments to my Facebook wall. In fact, I may do it, just to get a good debate going. :-)

    And please keep in mind that my thoughts on atheism being a belief are just that. My thoughts. I agree that from a grammatical or dictionary perspective, I am incorrect. My thoughts come from a philosophical point of view and are not intended to insult atheists. It's just how I feel, based on my conversations with atheists.

    And for what it is worth, I do not believe a secular government is evil. Of course, it would be "Godless" but that is by definition so it can't be deemed a derogatory term. In my previous blogs I have described that I do not believe religion has any place in our government. Religion should only be found in politics, in the hearts of politicians who claim to be christian.

    I like it when the media tries to "trap" Ron Paul by getting him to state his religious beliefs and how they should be a part of politics and he says "My religious beliefs are really none of your business."

    That's how it should be in my opinion.

    You obviously have a very bad taste in your mouth in regards to religion. That is clear from your comment. I understand how you feel about the "wrongs" christians have committed and that is on my list for one of my blogs. I will address the history of christianity and the wrongs that have been committed in the name of God.

    But to give you a "heads up" on the blog, if you would hold christians accountable for things committed by our ancestors, then do you hold Americans accountable for the horror committed by "our" ancestors. Within the last hundred years "Americans" were guilty of women's rights violations, civil rights violations, and slavery. And if I am to be held accountable for horrible things christians did in the past, shall we also never forgive a German for the horrible things Hitler did? How about Russians, should we oppose them? The list is a pretty long one when you talk about groups of organized people who have "wronged" another group.

    But that is a blog for another time. I am still researching some history.

    As always thanks for stopping by and contributing. You bring up very valid points that challenge me and force me to dig deeper. And I thank you for that.


  13. "you would hold christians accountable for things committed by our ancestors" - V

    I personally see it as John saying it's not he people of today that should be held accountable but the scripture from which they were motivated, justified, glorified, encouraged and ultimately believed that what they were doing was the right thing to do.

    Yes controlled groups have been accountable for many different things, they have had the ability to organise and make clear what they want to do, many times doing exactly what they set out to do. Any group is capable of good and bad, once again subjective, either way it is the groups responsibility as to what they do and who makes sure what is done is done correctly. If a group is based off flawed dogmatic scripture and people can still agree with what was done based on this scripture, than it's not just the people who committed the actions but also the scripture that has problems that need to be dealt with.

    Yes atheism has become organised, but would you call a chess group or soccer players reliant on a belief? Yes they have something in common, they want to participate in a game, but ultimately other than that and that they are humans we have nothing else to go on.

    The default setting when having no god or gods to believe in is atheism as you have no belief in them. I get where you are coming from but ultimately I'll agree to disagree because atheism is and always has been a lack of belief in any god or gods, all that's changed in today's day and age is that we have come together collectively to overcome what has been happening to us and how we have been treated.

    "I just personally think it carries a list or system of beliefs." -V
    If everyone was an atheist we wouldn't have atheist groups. There is no system of belief or a list of anything other than gods that we don't have any belief in. Where atheist's might produce books and express opinion, they are acknowledged as opinions and a set of beliefs that belong to a single human who we may or may not agree with,

    Religion on the other hand, for example Christianity has a set of beliefs that can be found in holly scripture, which is treated as if it comes from a divine being and certain things aren't to be questioned lightly or in some cases at all.
    If everyone was a Christian we would still have places of worship and different denominations.

    I'm not here to debate or attack any religion. However I will of course express my opinion in relation to your blog and posts that follow it. I'd like to thank you for allowing me to do so.
    I've visited other blogs before where an individual suggests they are open minded but don't allow posts that disagree with the view they hold.

    Cheers! :)

  14. I won't bore you with my entire story, but after struggling with my Christianity for awhile and not getting any good answers to my questions, I finally just decided to stop believing in something that no longer made sense to me.

    As to the belief issue you are talking about, here is what I believe now: The Bible is just a collection of books written by men, Christianity is just a set of beliefs created by men, and that every god that has ever been described to me is also a creation of men. So while atheism is technically defined as a lack of belief in gods, which is true, you are right in that each person, regardless of faith or lack thereof, does hold a set of beliefs about all things physical and metaphysical. A World View as you might call it.

    Is that what you are talking about when you say atheism is a belief?

  15. The word you need is "yoke". Look it up. Learn what it means.

    Thank you.

  16. @Raytheist,

    I am familiar with the term "yolk." It was used to describe a particular set of beliefs that were held by different Rabbi's in Judaism. One rabbi might say on the sabbath you could walk one mile and be ok. Where another rabbi might say you could walk 3 miles and be ok.

    When people followed a certain rabbi and that rabbis particular beliefs they were said to be "taking up his yolk" which is what Jesus was referencing when he said "My yolk is easy and my burden is light."

    However, I don't think that applies in this case because all the denominations I listed above are not Jewish. And Jewish people do not consider themselves of the "christian" doctrine. So you can't really apply Judaism to christian doctrines in that sense.

    Christianity relates to Judaism but Judaism doesn't relate to Christianity.

  17. Warick, you will have to wait for my blog and see if you can reconcile why I say it is a belief. :-)

    I am overwhelmed with the writing I have to do, based on the feedback I am getting.

    And guys please understand if I don't respond to you right away please remember I am running a small family business and I am raising 8 children with my wife. I am not ignoring you, I am probably changing a poopie diaper, wiping a snotty nose, trying to talk to teenagers about sex and drugs, or just trying to squeeze in some sweet nectar lovins with my wife.

  18. Lance, you are on the right track with my line of thinking. To go a step further, atheists definitely hold certain beliefs. For example, most atheists I know believe that christianity is bad for society. Most atheists believe that christians are delusional. Most atheists believe that christians brainwash their children and some even call it child abuse.

    Those are all sets of "beliefs" shared by most atheists I know. So instead of saying atheism is a "belief" in itself, it may be more accurate to say atheism is a set of "beliefs" held by most atheists.

    Of course you would say the same thing about christians. Because certainly christianity is more than just a belief in God. It is an entire "set of beliefs" based on the idea that God is real.

    Atheism is a "set of beliefs" that is based on the idea that there is no god of any type.

  19. @Victor

    What you describe as a set of beliefs, is certainly a set of beliefs but I'd say they are anti-theistic beliefs that would apply to all religions and certainly not to all atheists.

    I know that people of a religion who are educated hold the position they do because either they have very strong faith or/and have reason to see/believe "evidence" that supports the claim of the religion they believe in being true.

    Not all atheists are anti-theistic. It certainly is easier to be so without the belief in any god or gods, but someone who is a deist could certainly be anti-theistic. Yes atheists hold beliefs, however they aren't based on a lack of a god existing or not, they can certainly be influenced by that but most can easily survive independently.

    Looking forward to reading your blog where you address your view of atheism on it's own being a belief. Keep taking good care of your business and the family, certainly we all understand that life has certain responsibilities and we all need to be able to prioritise accordingly.

  20. Hi Victor, just one more data point for you. I do know of several atheists who are not anti-religion at all. I have had discussions with some who say religion is a good thing for society, but they just can't seem to believe it themselves. I know of others in situations similar to mine, with a believing spouse, who go to church on a regular basis and send their kids to Sunday school, but again, just can't believe it themselves.

    When I talk to them, they quietly admit to me that they are atheists, but they don't tell anyone else. I even know of one that goes to Bible studies with his wife and enjoys asking difficult questions, but really does not believe. You would probably not think of these folks as atheists since they don't wear it on their sleeve like I do. But they are atheists none the less, and you may want to address the existence of these people in your blog.

    I found one poll that said about 17% of atheists go to church because of family reasons. They don't believe, but they may be sitting in the pews next to you quietly playing along.

    I know you personally don't paint all atheists with the same brush, but I figure some Christian readers of your blog may find this point to be of interest.


  21. Happy Easter Victor.

    I started thinking more about the quiet atheists I mentioned in the comment above, and it hit me that the vast majority of my non-believing friends don't even think of themselves as atheists. They would never think about going to an atheist meet-up group, just as they would never think about going to a church. They just go through their lives giving no consideration to religion or God. They think about religion and God just about as much as you think about Thor or Vishnu.

    But they really are atheists, and they live their lives without God in any way shape or form. They are very similar in lifestyle to what you would call lukewarm Christians who believe in some form of Christianity they only half remember from their childhood, but really don't think about it or let it influence their life much. But the difference between the quiet atheists and the lukewarm Christians is that the atheists have thought a little bit about God and said "Nah, no thanks, not buying it." Which technically does make them atheists.

    I know about these people because I'm a bit of an outspoken atheist, and I bring up the subject of religion now and then when I'm out for beers with friends and co-workers. And they tell me what I just told you, that they don't believe, but they simply never think about it. My informal survey of this tells me that these quiet or hidden atheists outnumber the outspoken ones by at least 10 to 1.

    They are all around you, and they are the ones that simply nod their heads and find a way to excuse themselves when a Christian brings up Jesus. They don't engage in a debate, they just walk away.

    Just food for thought, since most of your interactions are with the chatty atheists like me. I hope you have a wonderful Easter.

  22. Thats a good point, Lance and valid.

    I am taking a break from blogging for about 2 weeks. My wife and I are making some important decisions for our family and I need to be focused for awhile and not distracted. I will be back in about 2 weeks and I really appreciate all the feedback everyone has given me.

  23. Hi Victor,

    I see I'm about 2 years late to the conversation, but what the heck, I'll drop in my 2 cents...

    I really appreciate it when people take an honest look of the big picture like you're trying to do. In my search for answers I came across Emanuel Swedenborg, who wrote in the 1700s that all the Christian churches were corrupt and were totally missing the point. He wrote a lot of books on this (about 35 I think), but what really worked for me was the book, "True Christianity." Essentially he writes that God is love, there is no "cosmic quiz" as you put it, and that our eternal destiny is one that we choose based on what we love no what we believe. He even goes so far to say that all religions lead to heaven, and that the real crux of the matter is for people to believe in God, and to live a life according to what they believe God teaches. Anyway, I don't want to go on too long, but his views certainly made sense and resonated with what I believe in my heart. I've been studying Swedenborg now for 5 or 6 years and I feel it has totally changed my world view.

    Hope that helps.