God made Atheists

To begin with, you know perfectly well that I don’t believe in God or most of what the Bible says. However, if I were to assume that all I read is accurate, I could only believe that God made me an Atheist on purpose.

ImageFor starters, according to Romans 12:3, God gives each person an allotment of faith. Since God is infallible, he clearly meant for me to have no faith. He didn’t give it to me.

God also deliberately sends certain people a “strong delusion” and makes them “believe a lie” in order to ensure they do not get saved (Thessalonians 2:11). The beliefs I hold were sent by God on purpose so that I will not believe in him.

Let’s not forget John 12:40, which tells us that God hardened our hearts to make sure that we would not understand God or faith and would not be converted.

There can be no other conclusion. God made Atheists. Any attempt to convert me is going against God’s will.

What is religion?

After seeing an article repeatedly describe Satanism as a “fake religion”, I was having a discussion with an acquaintance about the use of the word “fake” in this context, and what constitutes a “real” religion. I feel that the topic could be expanded upon, and so here is this blog post.

Most people would probably presume that a religion requires a god, or a defined pantheon of gods. Perhaps an afterlife too. There are usually prescribed and proscribed behaviours intended to please those gods and ensure a positive outcome after death.

However in recent decades this rather simplistic view of religion has been increasingly rejected by scholars. Look at Buddhism, for example; it is a religion, but the Buddha is not a god and Buddhists do not worship him. Buddhists do not strive to reach a heaven-equivalent, instead seeking something more internal and personal.

Hinduism is also less simple to define as a religion than many people realise. Hinduism is a convenient term used to describe a huge variety of different beliefs and practices; two Hindus from different areas will have vastly differing ideas of what Hinduism is. The word “Hindu” is actually just the Persian word for “Indian”, intended originally to describe a nationality rather than a religion. Hinduism lacks most features usual for religions: it has no single moral code, no specific scripture, it has no founder, it is not prophetic.

The spiritual lives and practices of peoples such as Native Americans and Australian Aborigines were not recognised as valid religions when first observed by Europeans; such peoples were thought to be godless savages. However further study revealed that these “savages” had complex belief systems which played important roles in their lives. They are now recognised as religions just as valid as any other.

Satanism, as codified by Anton LaVey, involves the worship of no gods. Satanists are Atheists with rules. The rules lay out a moral code, requirements of behaviour, and reasons for them. The centralised structure, existence of officials, and single moral code make Satanism, in some ways, more closely resemble the mainstream religions such as Christianity than the others listed here.

It turns out that our understanding of religion, and what constitutes one, is much more complex than one might initially think. So I think a “real” religion is one which has real people who accept it and follow its tenets, whatever they may be; an additional favourable condition is legal status and state recognition of an organisation as a religion.

Why other Atheists annoy me

You know I’m an Atheist. It says so, right there at the top of this blog. Look. See that? I am an Atheist. I don’t believe in God.

So why would other Atheists annoy me?

For starters, it’s because the lack of believe in God is about all that we have in common. On other matters – even including what to do with our lack of belief – we violently disagree.

But mostly, I think, it is a lack of knowledge about what it is that we deny.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on religion. I have done a couple of subjects at university which brushed over it incidentally, plus one or two subjects with a focus on it, and I’ve read most of the Bible. But there is one thing I understand which a huge number of Atheists seem to disregard:

Not all Christians are the same.

It’s something I see again and again: an Atheist will attack a Christian for being ignorant about their own religion, but what’s really going on is that the Atheist assumes the Christian is a Catholic. The fact that there are many denominations under the Christian banner, and that they all hold their own differing beliefs, seems to go completely unacknowledged in the Atheist community.

Don’t get me wrong; all the denominations are equally wrong. But you can’t lump them all together and say ‘All Christians think/say/do [whatever]!’ It just isn’t true. Not all Christians even recognise the same set of books of the Bible! There have been more books written than feature in any commonly available version.

To me, that sort of behaviour undermines the very point of being an Atheist. Shouldn’t we be more educated than that? Shouldn’t we be aware of every aspect of the thing we oppose? Shouldn’t we apply logic and critical thinking to everything we say, as well as everything ‘the Christians’ say?

Unless you’re prepared to put in some effort and educate yourself about Christianity, you should label yourself an Apathetic Atheist at best, or an Agnostic. You can’t define yourself by a lack of belief in something when you don’t even understand what it is you’re not believing in, or who your opponents are. You might just as well call yourself a tennis player, and then try to engage Layton Hewitt in a game of badminton.

Why I am not a Christian

Needing to read the Bible for university at the moment naturally brings to mind religion in general and religious people.

I was raised an Atheist. I don’t recall it being militant; it’s just that God and religion weren’t relevant to us. It wasn’t important and as such it was rarely discussed, as far as I recall.

But I do remember – reminded recently by my mother – trying to read the bible as a pre-teen. I sat at our kitchen bench with the huge family Bible (courtesy of my father’s mother), frequently making remarks such as “This doesn’t make sense!” and “But this bit contradicts that other bit!” Mum, as I recall, shook her head and rolled her eyes, implying agreement I think.

And so, this is the first reason I am not a Christian. I wasn’t raised one, and I was allowed to believe that the Bible made no sense.

As part of a conversation with a Christian lady recently, she said something along the lines of, “Of course you don’t believe, you weren’t brought up with it. I pray you find the truth,” which simply begs the rejoinder, “Of course you do believe it, you were brought up with it!” Her statement proved only that one doesn’t usually deviate from one’s upbringing. Such astonishing logic is hardly likely to sway me.

Part of becoming a modern Christian, apparently, is ‘accepting Jesus as your personal saviour’ and entering a ‘personal relationship with Him.’ Even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t have the faintest idea what that means or how one would go about doing it. The only way I can think of is to join a cult; apparently their brainwashing techniques are so effective that even the most cynical can be taken in. However I’d rather avoid that path, as I value what mental health I have left.

And so, this is the second reason I am not a Christian. The process of becoming one appears to involve mental acrobatics closely resembling 1984.

As an adult, the more I read or hear about the religion, the less sense it makes. It’s an instance of more knowledge simply leading to more questions. I’ve read almost all of the Bible multiple times (Old Testament and New Testament, and some of the Apocrypha), I’ve spoken to Christian people, and naturally I’ve seen Christian views portrayed in or by the media. I read Margaret Court’s piece in the Herald Sun the other day, for instance. Nothing that I hear or see makes the idea of Christianity seem any more logical or appealing to me; quite the opposite in fact.

And so, this is the third reason I am not a Christian. I am a rational, intelligent, thinking adult and I have made a rational, intelligent, adult choice.