What does it mean to be a Christian? The difference between Atheism and Christianity.
Because I am anti-religious and speak out against the fallacy of Christendom, many people accuse me of being many things that I am not. Generally, Christians usurp everything positive as being under the umbrella of Christianity. So when I say I am “Anti-Christian”, they hear, “anti-morality, anti-kindness and goodness, anti-wanting to be a better person, anti-inspiration, anti-joy, anti-love, and anti-hope”.
And actually, I’m not against any of those. In fact I’m a passionate believer in and supporter of all of the above, and I strive everyday to become a better person. Meanwhile, when I say “Anti-Christian”, I’m only thinking about those things that Christians overlook or ignore about their own faith. These are the things I am firmly against:
- Salvation is very easy, just accept it
- Salvation was given in Jesus, who came 2000 years ago to Israel because God doesn’t give a shit about the rest of the world
- The world is ending soon and we will be judged for eternity – not based on our actions or accomplishments or even if we were good or bad, but based on our acceptance of Jesus
- God is a mystery – we just have to accept the Bible and believe in it cuz God says so, and because God says he wrote the Bible in the Bible so it’s true
Now if you accept those things – that doesn’t make you a good person. It doesn’t necessarily make you an idiot either (I used to believe them, and I’ve always been very intelligent). If you want to keep believing in those things, and if they make you happy, if they make you kinder and more generous, and if they don’t make you bitter, angry and violent, then power to you. I won’t interfere. However if you’re looking for something else, if you have problems with those beliefs but still call yourself a Christian, you might want to rethink your definition.
A lot of modern Christians basically believe in self-empowerment, freedom, actualization, and other new-age stuff like the Secret and the Law of Attraction that has extremely little to do with Jesus… and they say things like “well I’m not interested in the historical Jesus, but I know and love Jesus and God, etc”. That’s bullocks. You could be using another term, a more universal term, to express your spirituality which doesn’t automatically ban salvation from half of the world’s population (yes, Jesus did that… actually much less than half are currently Christian. Do the math.)
Today I got the following comment on one of my blog posts. I’ve left the spelling errors:
if you don’t believe in him, why make this website? Why read the bible to get your so called “Facts”?why do you tear your hair out if some one say that they are believers?don’t you believe in anything? if your answer is no, you are a liar.you must in some way or a another believe in something.Lets just say, you believe in this, and other believes in that. I’m not judging, im just saying, you must be really heartbroken to write this crep
It wasn’t even an inflammatory post. Am I heartbroken? No. Ok, I’ll admit when I was a teenage Christian I was filled with meaning, hope, inspiration and joy more often than I am now (maybe that just comes with being a teenager – I was also infinitely more heartbroken, depressed, sad, and lost than I am now). Do I believe in something? Abso-goddamn-lutely. I believe Jesus wasn’t a historical person; that religions like Islam and Christianity are founded on violence and left to their own devices (without education and science) would keep the world in a violent, misogynist, land of punishment and terror; that everyone needs to be fully responsible for their own actions and accountable for their deeds (not someday in heaven; here, now); that the world desperately needs saving and religion isn’t helping.
And by the way, I think religion probably has positive psychological benefits – maybe some people need religion. If I was in charge I might make everybody religious…. but I would never let religion grow powerful enough to make important decisions, stop science or education, or implement 2000 year old rules based on an ancient book of mythology.
What is Atheism and Am I an Atheist?
Atheism is a lack of belief in Gods or having no beliefs in supernatural deities; but this definition is unclear. What are “Gods”? If I stick only with the “supernatural” part – you could call me an Atheist. I don’t believe in something outside of nature. Everything that is, is – that’s nature; but we don’t understand it. We don’t know what “matter” is really capable of. There may be lots of things going on in the universe that we don’t understand. There may be big, superpowerful, intelligent beings from other planets or planes of existence that appear like “Gods” to us. Do I believe in One, Father God above everything, who is the end and the beginning, and who consciously interferes with history? No. What’s more – if He exists, then I refuse Him; because his actions are ethically questionable and I will not be bullied into submission by tyranny.
But is it possible that what many people mean by “God” actually refers to some natural condition that I am completely open-minded about? Yes.
Let’s go back to the comment I mentioned above:
if you don’t believe in him, why make this website? Why read the bible to get your so called “Facts”?why do you tear your hair out if some one say that they are believers?
These are excellent questions that need to be addressed. I’ll assume that the writer is talking about the Christian God.
If you don’t believe in him, why make this website?
Christianity offers a comprehensive, totalizing worldview. From inside the belief system, it has set up safeguards which make it difficult to turn away from your belief. Christians who are having trouble accepting the miraculous claims of the Church will feel guilty and may do penance. They will suffer tragically – and they will believe that suffering is good, healthy and righteous. This will make them angry at others (like myself) who are not going through this wearisome process of suffering and being guilty all the time. Christians will feel morally superior and angry (not all of them, of course – many Christians are amazing people.)
The purpose of this website is to offer another world view, that also makes sense, that is firmly established with evidence, support, reason and argument, to allow Christians or any one else the chance to move away from the belief system they were taught (usually against their will as children) into something else, something potentially more beneficial for their lives.
The hardest thing about leaving Christianity is that it feels like the whole world has lost meaning – and worse, you may constantly worry that you’re making the wrong choice. I’ve found that research, education and community help fill this void – eventually leading to far greater spiritual/intellectual heights than those offered in Christianity.
The specific agenda of this website, however, is to stand up in defiance against the idea/literary character of God. The God of the Old Testament, of Christianity; the God who refuses human expression, freedom, individualism, autonomy, pleasurable excess; the disapproving, frowning God who warns us against life – this is a hateful, tyrannous character. Just because I don’t believe he is real, doesn’t mean I can afford to ignore him – even if he doesn’t exist the idea of God is immensely and penetratingly influential on all of humankind. The future of mankind – our very survival – hinges on how we define God and our relation to this world we life on.
Why read the bible to get your so called “Facts”?
This is a very perceptive question. I’ll give two answers. First, Christians base their entire faith on the Bible. The Bible is the “Proof” that Christianity is True, that Jesus is God, etc. But the Bible is a collection of ancient literature, some written in Hebrew, some in Greek, devised over a period of almost 1,000 years and incorporating wildly differing belief systems. It is full of mythical (supernatural) events that are no more amazing than the feats of other pagan mythology – except that Christians continue to believe that they really happened. Frankly, as a former Christian and ex-seminary student who has studied biblical history and archaeology in Europe and the Middle East, who is now currently getting a PhD in Comparative Literature, I find the Bible fascinating. And it’s frustrating to me that – as a “sacred book” – I’m not supposed to do any research or investigation into its history, because “religious tolerance” should make it off limits and above question.
Secondly, while I don’t get my “facts” from the Bible, it is true that I regularly use biblical evidence and citations in my various arguments – which puts me in an awkward position. (If I don’t think it’s “True”, how can I use it to justify my beliefs or argument? Why is my interpretation any better than the “normal/Christian” one?) I suppose the Bible has a special place and resonance in Western Culture, and our perception of and response to the Bible continues to shape Western ideologies and policies; hence it is a pivotal text which must be engaged with.
Why do you tear your hair out if some one say that they are believers?
Christians like to believe that atheists or other non-religious are deliberately out to get them; trying to attack or abuse them. Honestly I don’t give a damn if you are a believer. However when someone says that, there’s a few things I know automatically:
- They are close-minded
- I will have to be careful what I say around them
- We can have no fruitful conversations
- They will continuously be looking for opportunities to save me
- They will constantly make references to their faith and its benefits
If you’re a believer, you are probably automatically on guard and sensitive about point #1. You’re probably thinking “I’m NOT close-minded”. I don’t have time to stand around arguing with you. Let’s agree that you aren’t going to listen to anything I say, you aren’t going to be persuaded by any of my arguments or evidence, but will inevitably fall back on “well, that’s what I believe…” The difference between you and me is that I am not prevented from changing any of my beliefs. I have not been commanded to keep them. I don’t need to be loyal to them. I will consider any new evidence to the best of my ability and eagerly sacrifice old idea to new, better ones. I’ve done this several times in my life and continue to do so. Maybe I’m wrong – maybe you’re right. But the term “open-minded” will be more readily attributed to me.
What atheists and non-believers are doing these days, on a massive scale, is fighting for the rights of people who don’t want to believe in God. This is not about Christians right to believe – you’ve had that right, for a long, long time. This is about the right of non-Christians NOT to believe; to speak out without fear of condemnation or violence; to share their message and recruit members (as churches do!) in public places; to stand against religious groups who want to burn books, teach creationism, jail women who have accidental still births, and other forms of religious extremism without being villainized as intolerant assholes. It’s about the right of me, you, and everyone to find out our meaning and purpose in life, and to discuss it freely, without massive repercussions (yes of course you may disagree with me – people will always disagree! But are you disagreeing with my words or are you unleashing your fear and angry in the form of venomous tirades and abuse?)
Am I tearing my hair out? I’ll admit it is extremely frustrating, after over a decade and two graduate degrees, to be told things about Jesus, the Bible and God that I know are categorically and historically untrue. To be looked down upon because I just don’t get it, or am being led astray by my intellect (God made me smart because he wanted me to go to Hell). To have people raise arguments and proof that are unverified, unchecked, forged or fabricated; and to be called names and get hate mail because I’m interested in comparative religion and religious literature. But – I’m only frustrated when dealing with frustrating individuals. I try to avoid them as much as possible; when they aren’t around, I enjoy my life and love what I do.
Derek Murphy is a writer and artist from Oregon, currently working on his PhD thesis on revolutionary literature while traveling the globe. He writes about comparative religion, popular culture and literary theory. If you’d like to hear about his upcoming projects or books, you can follow him on Twitter, join the Facebook page, or subscribe by RSS.