Friday, January 2, 2015

The Burden

To my non-believing readers and cyber friends:

Horrible, horrible things have been done throughout history in the name of God. I know that some of the most vile, condescending people imaginable practice their odiousness in the name of God and religion.

That behavior tarnishes every one of us who believe in God. The ideas that "religion poisons everything" (Hitchens) and that belief in God is a "delusion" (Dawkins), draw a line in the sand at exactly the wrong place, I believe. Those who practice evil in the name of God are the poisoners and the deluded.

"God said it, I believe it," the battle cry of our religious fundamentalist friends and neighbors. They have so much trouble looking beyond the pages of their cherished scriptures, in the process throwing away the fruit of centuries of human progress. They feel especially threatened by science, even though the majority of us believers don't. The opprobrium due them will hang over the heads of folks like myself, even though we hate witch hunts (literally), inquisitions, holy wars and etc., as much as the nonbeliever, nor can we fathom practicing racism and sexism in the name of ancient sacred tradition.

I am not one of them and their load is more than I could bear.


  1. You know, Doug, I think you and I have taken similar paths. We found out what we initially believed probably wasn't true, we were disappointed, scared, and yes, angry. In that I think I probably went too far the opposite direction - declaring there is no such thing as a God.

    I still don't think there is a God, at least not like the one depicted in the Bible. Is there some sort of higher power? I don't know. Can I know that for certain? I don't think so.

    Fundamentalists - the ones who declare that they are right while everyone else is wrong are the ones I don't get and tend to butt heads with. How can anyone be so certain of something we have absolutely no clue about and no hope in hell(pun intended) of ever knowing?

  2. Ruth, my friend, I always appreciate your comments.

    Emotional pain is what launched me on my journey away from faith. And it kept me sailing for many, many years. It took a long, long time for me to come to grips with my life. For me to admit my failings and immaturity. For me it was never just the intellectual difficulties. I took it more personally. I felt God had failed me. In retrospect, I see the failure as mine.

    Fundamentalism is religious extremism. Before the collapse of my marriage and my subsequent leaving the faith, I had already rethought evolution, Hell, salvation by faith alone, Bible criticism and a whole host of notions that would have left me "outside the gates" with those folks. And I think I was the better for it. But in the end I unhinged myself from my spiritual grounding and soon thereafter my personal life went to hell.

    It was many years later that I read Rabbi Kushner's book Who Needs God. It really spoke to me emotionally, not philosophically. And I reread a chapter in one of my favorite books, by Dale Carnegie (his book on worry), that was "How My Mother And Father Conquered Worry." His answer, of course, was religious faith. Carnegie told of his journey from faith to agnosticism, and then how - despite the many unanswered questions - religious faith helped him cope with day to day living, just as it had his parents in his youth. This also jibed with my experience.

    It seems we can reason our way into or out of just about anything. Perhaps that is what Pascal had reference to when he said, "the heart has its reasons, which reason does not know." Maybe God and faith are more basic than the many drawn-out philosophical proofs and disproofs. With most of us the heart is always more powerful than the mind.