I don’t generally post articles about religion here, as I like to keep religion and politics separate. I also consider the militant atheism of some strands of classical anarchism (and today’s “New Atheists”) as archaic and largely irrelevant to modern societies. I also don’t want religion to be a divisive force in the movement I am trying to develop.
But this piece by a former fundamentalist turned deist is an excellent introduction to the anti-clerical outlook that is a big part of the anarchist tradition. “Unbelievers” are the fastest growing religious perspective in the U.S. today, and religious dissent often correlates with political dissent. Criticizing Christian orthodoxy and embracing alternative religious perspectives like deism and entirely skeptical positions like atheism were an essential and primary part of the cultivation of the intellectual culture of the Enlightenment. It is out of this intellectual milieu that political philosophies of the kind we discuss here emerged: classical liberalism, classical anarchism, libertarian socialism, and modern libertarianism.
An undercurrent of comments began after I ran Laurence Vance’s article Are Evangelical Christians Warmongers? One reader calling himself “Anubis” (the jackal-headed Egyptian god) started it by commenting “Another reason I’ve become an atheist. If there was a God he would…”
I took the bait and replied “Being an atheist is unintelligent and flies in the face of reason. Being a-religious makes sense. You can acknowledge God’s existence and have a relationship with Him without embracing any particular religion.”
“Nathan McMurray” added this: “Careful Russ, you don’t know the specifics of why this reader chose atheism over theism. If it was based on “unintelligent” presuppositions then yes, his choice would be unintelligent and, therefore, fly in the face of reason. But there are many of us atheists that have examined the facts of the various Holy Scriptures and found that none of them point to anything that would resemble an all-knowing creator entity; much less an entity that has taken a keen interest in a certain species of upright walking apes and with whom they copulate. At best, all anyone can say with certainty is they are a hopeful agnostic.”
Then Richard, in the choir loft, said “Have you not read or heard that Christ brings liberty to the spiritual slave? Those who are at liberty are bound by duty to follow Christ, not chains.” Hhhmmm. Those at liberty are bound?
The stage is set, and I haven’t written about spiritual issues in quite a while. I can only write about secession so much. At some point…which I’m beginning to think I’ve already reached…there is not much more to say about secession until the triggers occur. So an article about living happily without religion seems controversial enough to get me writing again.
Here is the theme of this article: A human being can live a life filled with happiness, contentment and meaning WITHOUT religion. And that same person may have a vibrant, deep relationship with God without religion. I contend that it is actually easier to live a meaningful spiritual life without religion.
To Nathan, I say: What “facts” have you examined in Holy Writ? Can anything from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 be considered proven facts? I don’t mean the dates and rulers, like when Darius the Mead was on the throne. It doesn’t take much to line up a story with a kingdom. Nobody’s basing their world view and preconceptions about God on the handy dates in Biblical stories. That’s all small stuff. But they ARE betting their lives on all the rest of the stuff in the Bible that’s simply been made up over the last 6,000 years.
It’s the big stuff that I can’t swallow any more. The entire account of creation. The existence of Satan. The Exodus. The parting of the Red Sea. The giving of The Law on stone tablets. Taking laps around the Sinai for 40 years. Old Testament stories about the children of Israel, and strange prophecies. All of the stories about Jesus in the Four Gospels. The prophecies in The Revelation. Heaven and Hell. Sin and salvation. And the ridiculous ways that Christians explain the things that their God either does or doesn’t do in their daily lives.
The Bible is widely considered to be the Word of God. Why? Because it says so…in the Bible. It is its own reference material…it takes its authority from itself. Think how counter-intelligent that is. I am X because I say so. The Bible is widely touted to be THE Truth…ultimate truth…for the same reason…simply because the writers who were included wrote that it was so.
How Did The Bible Become The Bible?
The Canon of Scripture, meaning the compilation of the sixty-six books of the Bible’s present form, came to be as a result of a simple majority vote among the bishops of the Christian Church at the Council of Laodicaea in 364AD. There were another 44 books circulating in the Christian world that did not make the cut. Is that any way to determine truth? By a popular vote? Most of the books circulating around Christendom were written decades or centuries before 364AD. And each of the Gospels was written decades after the writers walked with Jesus in his ministry. Let’s see you write out incidents and conversations you had 20 years ago or more…verbatim. Why do you trust the judgment of a bunch of bishops to determine which books were God-breathed and which were not?
Holy writ is only deemed holy by its adherents. To wit, Bible-believing Christians reject the Koran, the Bhagavad-Gita and the Book of Mormon as heresies and vice versa.
There is a writer that I recommend for a supplemental perspective on the veracity of the Bible. Lysander Spooner was a Deist and attorney who wrote extensively about religion and politics in the mid-1800s. He has written “The Deist’s Reply to the Alleged Supernatural Evidences of Christianity.” In this five-chapter work, he delivers a withering argument against the very foundations of Christianity. I challenge you to read his work and refute it.
You can find the work and read it for free at: Lysander Spooner
And What About The Central Character?
Today’s Christians and Catholics take it for granted that Jesus is God. But in the first three CENTURIES after Jesus’ life, there was NO consensus in Christendom that Jesus was God. And in the early 4th Century, the division came down to two clerics. Athanasius held that Jesus was the Son of God. Arius held that Jesus was “a” son of God, like others mentioned in the Old Testament books. The fight over the deity of Jesus Christ was splitting Christendom. At the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, one of those handy votes was taken, and the Athanasians…the pro-deity camp…won the vote. Is that any way to determine the deity of the individual upon whom you rely for your soul’s very salvation? For a revealing book about the Council of Nicea, read ”When Jesus Became God,” by Richard Rubenstein.
What if it is all myth?
For the first 55 years of my life, I could not…would not…even entertain the offhand, errant, blasphemous thought that the Bible could be wrong…or just not THE truth. Then some events happened in my life that caused me to rethink everything about ultimate reality. Most of the people I have ever encountered think the Bible is the word of God. But are you strong enough in your faith, or beliefs, to really honestly merely THINK about the possibility that all religion is myth? It’s no sin to doubt, and no sin to think controversial thoughts.
If you consider that all religions are myths, you will be forced to entirely retool every world view you presently hold. You’ll have to deal with:
• Who and what God is
• The Creation story
• The existence of Heaven and Hell
• Satan and evil
• The life of Jesus
• The “miracles” and ministry of Jesus
• Sin and salvation
• What Christianity means…and doesn’t mean
• World history in light of myth
• The entire Bible not being God’s Word
• Your family’s reaction to you
• ENORMOUS peace of mind
• No more false guilt
Why Does Mankind Want Religion?
Religion is man’s attempt to explain the origins of himself and the universe. It’s all flowing from mankind out and back toward itself in an endless loop that never requires verification…only faith and belief. It started with those that worshipped the nature around them, and has evolved over time as mankind has learned more about himself and the universe. But think about this: why would you worship anything at all? It is because the human brain seems to have the ability to want to attribute meaning to everything. I don’t think my Doberman Kaiser or my cat Sam spend much time looking for meaning in their lives.
If God’s energy is in everything, then is everything God? There are two schools of thought. First, God created everything outside of himself, and creation stands extant of Him. God is here, and creation is over there. Second, God created everything of himself, and so the pure energy of God that holds all created things together unites all of creation inside God. The first school of thought represents Western Civilization. The second represents Eastern Civilization.
God’s face is obscured by the opaque screen of religion. Show most people in the world the DaVinci’s rendering of God on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and you’ll have what most people today think God looks like. In like manner, most people have their concept of Hell and the horned, red Devil from Dante’s Inferno, written in the 14th Century. Each religious tradition, creed, cult or church builds elaborate rules and regulations (dogma) about what human behavior is acceptable to God and what is not acceptable. And the more preposterous and authoritarian the dogma, the more faith and belief
(and adherence) are required. But the Creator is not defined by religion, only diminished. He is brought down to human level of energy, we are not elevated to his energy level.
This Creator of all but Himself has always had the power to manifest Himself to every human being that has ever lived upon this planet. If God truly wanted a relationship with mankind, or any man individually, he could simply reveal Himself. If and when God does reveal Himself to man, all “religion” will of necessity cease, as man will no longer need to reach out to God or try to explain a being he cannot experience with his five senses. Belief will be unnecessary, since mankind will KNOW God. The most jaded, cynical scientist and atheist, faced with a real God, could no longer hold onto their worldviews.
All of the rules and regulations found in the Bible, and the silly games attributed to the Creator, are an insult to the character of an infinite Being. God does not need to sneak around and play complicated faith games with humans if he desires human relationships. Accepting Him at the level of his existing universal revelation is a superior way to set aside faith and actually KNOW God.
ALL RELIGION requires you to believe things that cannot be proven. In Hebrews Chapter 11 it says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” This doesn’t say you can know a thing, but says that you can hope for a thing and your faith is the substance you get. I don’t know about any of you, but I would much rather operate my life and my core worldview based upon things that I can KNOW, not simply things I must believe. Knowing is always a higher level of energy than believing.
The GOOD NEWS…THE GREAT NEWS…is that God actually DID reveal himself to mankind through his very creation.
I believe that God has revealed these seven attributes about Himself in creation:
To learn more about these seven attributes of God, read ”The Power of Intention,” by Dr. Wayne Dyer.
I most heartily recommend the Deist worldview to seekers of truth. It is the worldview that requires the least amount of faith and manufactured guilt, reveals the most truth about God and the cosmos, retains meaning for human existence, and makes the most sense for those who aspire to maximum individual liberty.
DumpDC. Six Letters That Can Change History.
© Copyright 2011, Russell D. Longcore. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.