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Christianity understood, then rejected as I believe there is no soul, no afterlife, it's all made up

Von: Carl Sagan's billions (mm2terra@yahoo.com) [Profil]
Datum: 06.06.2010 00:17
Message-ID: <6fd1d4db-7052-4a86-bf7b-b3987b8007e3@i28g2000yqa.googlegroups.com>
Newsgroup: alt.religion.godssoc.religion.paganism alt.religion.gnostic alt.religion.end-times.prophecies alt.religion.afterlife
QUESTIONING PHASE
The purpose of this post is not to convert but to let searchers
and 'strugglers with religion' know how I struggled with,
outgrew and in the end had to reject Christianity, the religion
I was raised in, and why.

In my high school and student years I struggled a lot trying to
understand Christianity, God, Jesus, sin, Satan, Genesis, etc..

I was told to believe and what to believe but I still could not help
thinking about it because I wanted to understand it all rationally.
And that's where my 'problems' began.

I  tried to understand the basic doctrines of, and core beliefs
and ideas behind Christianity, i.e., the philosophical
essence of Christianity. Understand it all rationally,
within a structure that made sense.

I tried to understand the various teachings in the Bible and also
the contradictions in the Old versus the New Testament.

What is/was the truth? Why? What happened historically?
What did it all mean? Why all these stories?
Why were 66 old Jewish books (39 OT, 27 NT) selected from
among the many and bundled into a Western bible?

Why did such a mix of philosophies from various authors grow into
a world religion? Who were really the main idea-masters and
idea-consolidators in these 2000 years?

How and why did Christianity and later Islam arise from Judaism?
Why did these three mono-theistic  religions, each one honoring
one and the same powerful God, all originate in the Middle East?
What do they have in common and why? Why are their ‘holy’
books so similar?

How do the facts of our evolution over millions of years get
reconciled with Genesis and the core Christian beliefs,
and for that matter the core beliefs in Judaism and Islam?

Why did the merciful and loving Christian God require his son
to die for us at a wooden cross, where did the idea of the fall in
the Garden of Eden come from and what was its meaning,
who was Satan, where is heaven, who or what is God, is there
a soul,  who was Christ, what was Christ's purpose, etc., etc..

Questions and questions and always more questions.

QUESTIONING CHRISTIAN NATIONS
I also tried to understand the behavior of so-called Christian
nations, technologically becoming more advanced but always
colonizing or wreaking havoc in non-Christian countries
(and now again waging horrible neo-colonial and illegal wars for
oil and gas and military bases on mostly non-Christian and mostly
darker-skinned peoples in resource-rich countries in Asia and Africa
(Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Philippines, etc.).

I tried to understand the enslavement and killing of Africans, the
mass murder of native Indians, and the many horrible wars waged
by Christian Americans and Europeans against poor, often darker
skinned, people all over the world. And the two World Wars started
by Christian nations in Europe.

Christianity was supposed to be a religion of peace, of turning
the other cheek, of loving your neighbor like yourself,
and it was very clear to me it was not, its philosophies did not
work, or did not enlighten its believers, or at least did not
seem to lead Christian nations to a better and more humane world.

INVESTIGATION PHASE
I contemplated the creation story in Genesis, with Adam and Eve
as the first human couple, Noah and the flood, the many prophets,
the Messiah, the virgin birth, the crucifixion, the resurrection,
revelations, and the many stories and prophecies in the Bible.

Then very slowly (over maybe about 5 years) I came to understand
and accept several truths described below. These truths enabled me to
gradually throw off the yoke, the blinders and the intellectual
shackles imposed by a long childhood indoctrination in Christianity.

And amazingly but steadily and happily (and also irreversibly)

I   BECAME   FREE  -----  FOREVER  ----- !

That was still pretty dramatic, e.g., when I read Robinson's
Honest-to-God and followed his brave search for answers (a search
beyond the usual Christian dogmas and ideas) I cried and
shivered.

While reading his questions and ideas, he suddenly made me
realize it's both bold and justified to jettison anything that does
not make sense. He was trying to get there but in the end he did
not fully make it. He could not break through and become free.

But he was the first one who made me see a glimmer of
light and hope in my own search: To think 'out of the (Christian)
box', and especially to no longer feel restricted by ancient 'holy'
books and ideas, to no longer feel obliged to take ideas and beliefs
at face value, i.e., to no longer accept:

"We can't explain it but you have to 'believe' it, it's all true!"
"God has a plan for you but we can't begin to understand it."
"Nothing happens unless it's God's will."

THINKING FOR MYSELF
Then my struggle completely changed from thinking solely about
what was written, translated, changed, edited, and embellished
in the Bible and trying to make sense out of THAT (=fit it in somehow
rationally) to thinking about what really made sense - to me.

This was followed later by thinking about Teilhard de Chardin's
fantastic and elaborate ideas of increasing complexity. As
Robinson he was searching for answers and came up, very
ingeniously, with 'divine' forces driving towards increased
biological complexity.

As Robinson he also did not quite make it, but in his thinking
he was jumping miles ahead of the ordinary Christian theologian.
The standard Christian answers were not working for him either.
So with endless creativity he developed grandiose and remarkable
new ideas as a substitute for the explanations by Christianity.

That was later followed by Dobzhansky's books on evolution,
Bertrand Russell's courage, wisdom and ideas,
books on comparative religion, and others.
I slowly began to realize:

'There was no need to struggle anymore - forever':

Not due to surrender, but due to liberation: Liberation from
irrationality and indoctrination in ancient religious
beliefs.  I finally understood that the beliefs of Christianity
cannot be made to fit in rationally.  I finally realized that the
struggle to discover rational themes and structures in
Christianity would be in vain and fruitless.

UNDERSTANDING
I understood ---- and (as happened with Galileo when he understood
the position of the earth and its path in the solar system) these
insights and thereby this freedom was really irreversible.

I now understood that religion develops in every human tribe or
culture, and that different cultures will develop different
religions.

And with this insight the hold of mental slavery in the form of
Christianity (as well as the philosophy of life of related
mono-theistic religions  = believing in one single all-powerful
God, i.e., Islam and Judaism) was broken - -  forever.

The mind broke free and I was now flying unencumbered.
No longer mentally stunted, no longer kept in intellectual captivity,
no longer bogged down in difficult struggles and confusion about
the hodgepodge of ideas provided by ancient 'holy' or derived
books.

These are the 10 simplified and often related truths/facts
I came to understand:

1. All religions and gods are 'man' made, i.e. made/made up
by humans. Not necessarily to deceive but as a result of new
ideas and concepts that accompanied the development of
various cultures. These ideas evolved over generations and were
of course influenced by other religions, cultures, people
migrations and (the power of) location/environment.

They were gradually accepted, adapted, embellished and written
down as the (new) truth, the (new) philosophy of life and
eventually the (new) 'true' religion.

2. The Christian concept and definition of a 'soul' is untenable.

Why? Evolution is a fact and nowhere in the long line of evolution
was the 'soul' (or something like the soul that  - per definition -
makes us immortal) suddenly inserted in a certain species and
at a discrete point in time by an external power/deity.

If I contend that the 'soul' was suddenly inserted in a living
"human" being, e.g., 1 million years ago, I must then believe that
his or her parents of practically the same intelligence did not have
a soul.  Why would a deity start with inserting a 'soul' in a new
infant  at a discrete point in time?  And maybe insert a soul in his/
her future mate as well so that all descendants from then on would
have a soul (while discounting the parents, and their parents, and
their parents, etc., all with practically the same intelligence)?

For me that does not make sense so I face two conclusions:

All living beings have a soul (e.g. as part of the 'essence' of LIFE,
however we define that) or no living beings have a soul.  As I
do not believe a worm has a soul, I conclude that the concept
of a soul in each human being is a man-made construct."

It is man-made because we have a need to believe that
we (or at least our 'spirit' or our 'soul') are immortal and will
exist forever, that we consist of more than matter and that
that extra is basically immaterial and will go on forever.

We also fear death. We cannot accept being gone forever.
We cannot accept never to see loved ones again.
We cannot understand death and the reason for death.
So we must deny death and believe we are immortal.

We also have a need to formulate reasons for our existence.
We also have a deep need to believe that we will outlast all the
pain and misery in our earth-bound lives and will 'live happily
ever after' in a glorious place of light and joy called 'heaven'.

3. There is no heaven and hell. All religions are man-made, and
the concepts of heaven and hell are man-made. They were created
when social groups evolved culturally and developed written
and unwritten rules, rites and laws:  To keep individual behavior
in line and within boundaries - to be beneficial to the group or to
its leaders. Heaven was a carrot, hell was the stick.

4. The Christian dogma of sin, with human beings having free
choice to obey or disobey, is untenable, as 'sin', killing, fighting,
death, etc., already existed millions of years before human beings
came about. From the fossil and other records we know for
certain that animals preyed on each other, killed and ate each other
before humans appeared on earth.

That means in the long line of evolution there was never a discrete
point in time where the 'first' human being suddenly had free choice
to obey or disobey.  That also means the dogma of Christ's death at
the cross to atone for our sins is untenable. Human beings evolved and
never (suddenly) had free choice to obey or dis-obey (=sin).

The Christian God sacrificed his son to atone for all sins
for all people forever for all times. That brilliant idea of hope
and total redemption and forgiveness by the almighty ruler
likely arose from much older pagan religions that had human
sacrifices at their core:

The ultimate sacrifice, as proof of total obedience and worship,
is giving up your most valuable and loved 'asset', which is to give
up/offer/sacrifice your own SON (as in the Abraham-Isaac story).

That's why 'man' eventually came up with the idea that Christ
- the Son, God's own Son - was sacrificed by God, the Father,
and died for the sins of all mankind.

This was really a BRILLIANT and UNLIMITED expansion of the
original but much more limited idea behind human sacrifices.

Not only did the all-powerful God himself give part of himself (the
Son) as the sacrifice, this sacrifice was so big, so ALL
encompassing, so full of love and acceptance and mercy, that
it forgave ALL sins of ALL human beings for ALL times  --
forever!!!

This idea is really mind-boggling in its ingenuity, vision and scope.

However as our species, Homo Sapiens, evolved over millions
of years, there was never an Adam and Eve 6000 years ago.

That means Eve disobeying God and eating from the fruit
never happened. That means the 'fall' in the garden of Eden
never happened.  That also means a 'fall' e.g. a million years
earlier never happened.

That means the philosophy of Jesus Christ having to die for
our original sin, for us disobeying God, has no basis in fact.

Our ancestors millions of years ago did not have the
intellectual capacity nor the choice to obey or disobey.
Even if the ideas of original sin and the fall are allegories,
they do not make sense versus the path of our evolution.

So the core philosophy of Christianity (that we disobeyed
God out of free will and thereby sinned and therefore needed
punishment and therefore needed Jesus to save us) is not true.

5. The Christian concept that we can only be saved by accepting
Christ as our savior is untenable. As over 4.5 billion on earth are
not Christians and may not even know about Jesus Christ,
it is illogical to assume that God automatically condemns
4.5 billion out of 6.5 billion to hell = eternal suffering.

There are also over 200-400 billion stars in our own galaxy,
the Milky Way, and at least 100-200 billion OTHER galaxies in
the visible universe, each one on average containing over
100 billion stars.

Assuming only 1 inhabited 'civilized' planet per billion stars, which
is a very conservative estimate, then there are over 10,000
billion (!) inhabited planets in our visible universe. It is
illogical to assume that God sacrificed his son on tens of millions
or even tens of billions of planets.

In the next few decades scientists will create self-reproducing
molecules, then bigger self-reproducing entities and then
living biological organisms. In addition, science will be able
to extend life span, stop aging, replace organs, rebuild hearts, etc.

'It was your time', i.e. meaning God has pre-determined your
time of death will be proven to be an out-dated idea.

Christianity's basic dogma assumes death is unavoidable and is
punishment for our original sin against God.  Death (except
by crushing, decapitation, etc.) will be avoidable or can be
postponed for hundreds or thousands of years. The implications
of that will sooner or later shake Christianity's core beliefs.

6. All religions are man-made, which explains the huge variety of
religions. Any evolving human society develops beliefs about life
and death, which then morph into absolute beliefs and
finally into structured and fixed beliefs = organized religion.
As cultures develop differently, also depending on geographic
location, available resources, trade, closeness with other
cultures, etc.,  their religions develop(ed) differently.

That's why there are so many religions, so many spin-offs of
existing religions, and why so many new spin-offs and denominations
are created all the time, all over the world.

There are always new cultural developments and new thinkers
with new ideas, creative thinkers who reject or modify or
re-interpret the older ideas and are able to entice multitudes with
new insights of hope.

7. All religions and their spin-offs are man-made, and the concept
of an IMMATERIAL and all powerful 'God' in Christianity, Islam
and Judaism is man-made.

As nowhere in the MATERIAL world we see real physical acts/
actions on matter by a 'God', there is no reason to assume that an
'immaterial' God like the Christian or Islamic or Jewish God (who
controls, guards, acts on matter = interferes in our material world)
exists.

8. So we have to face the fact, with courage and without despair,
and conclude that:

'GOD' IS ABSENT,  IS DEAD  OR  DOES NOT EXIST.

As I find it illogical that if an all powerful God existed, he would
decide to disappear from our material world = universe into some
other universe, or even die, i.e., disappear from all possible
universes, there is only one conclusion left:

There is no immaterial God applying material forces on or into
our physical environment.

That means all physical and chemical occurrences can be
explained (sooner or later) without having to introduce/assume
a supernatural and  'immaterial'  being capable of and actively
acting on matter.

Therefore the conclusion is that God as defined by
Christianity, Islam and Judaism does not exist and was made up.

The concept of God as a single all-powerful ruling entity sprouted
from preceding religions and cultures.

You can only exist if you are matter or tied to matter.
When you are matter or tied to matter (e.g., light, sound,
magnetism) you can be observed, measured, etc., and
thus be proven to exist.

*****************************************************************
If you cannot prove it exists, you cannot convince me to
believe it exists. If you cannot prove it exists, you cannot
prove it is all-powerful and acts on matter.
*****************************************************************

Examples in the last few years:
The terrible cyclone in Myanmar, over 100,000 dead.
The terrible earthquake in China, over 80,000 dead.
In the 2004 tsunami near Sumatra up to 100,000 innocent children
were killed in just one hour (in total an estimated 220,000 innocent
people died).
The terrible earthquake in Haiti, over 210,000 dead.
'God' did not do it.
'Satan' did not do it.
Humans did not do it.

The earth core is still cooling, forcing huge plates to move,
which occasionally rupture or fracture into earthquakes,
volcanic eruptions, etc., which then can cause terrible
natural catastrophes such as this tsunami.

Nowhere did or does the 'hand of God' act anywhere.
'He' does not cause these disasters,
and 'he' does not prevent them.
'He' does not act on matter.

9. The mystery of matter and the most crucial question and
most profound mystery of all

--- 'WHY WE (made of matter) EXIST'  ----

does not mean we have to assume an all powerful being like the
Christian God who creates, controls, acts on matter,
rules and monitors and determines everything.
In the last 1000 years more and more mysteries have been explained.

In the coming centuries many more mysteries will be resolved.
That means religions get pushed back more and more,
away from the absolute 'truths' as described in 'holy' books.

Religions consist of a mixture of man-made philosophies,
myths, theories, taboos, legends, laws, rules, remnants of earlier
religions, etc.. These explanations from hundreds of years or much
longer ago will be pushed back or voided by science
and more rational explanations.

That also means a religion such as Christianity can only survive if
it develops a much better explanation and rationale for the mystery
of matter and life, and for our own existence. However Christianity
cannot 're-engineer' itself. It cannot offer a new and science-based
explanation of life and death, or even reform itself into a more
rational philosophy of life. The gap cannot be bridged.

So it will remain an anti-scientific and mostly STATIC belief
system, based on fixed explanations for life and death and
the reason for our existence, made by men and women who
lived hundreds and even thousands of years ago.

The contradiction and discrepancies between what we learn from
science and these fixed explanations will grow. Christianity and
similar mono-theistic religions will have difficulty to survive as a
philosophy of life.

The psychological human need for spirituality will not disappear,
but the dogmas and beliefs of religions such as Christianity,
Islam and Judaism will become less and less acceptable to
more and more people.

The rites, rituals, songs, communal feelings, music, spiritual
teachings and social interactions may survive but the doctrines
cannot survive in their current absolutist forms.

10. The core issue is really a direct conflict between:

o   the religious/emotional/non-scientific approach or persona and

o   the scientific/rational approach or persona

Spirituality will stay in various forms; dogmatic religions
based on ancient fixed beliefs will slowly disappear or
remain with smaller and smaller groups of the uneducated, the
un-enlightened, the desperate or the permanently indoctrinated.

As we all know, indoctrination in the first twenty-some years of
one's life is super-strong and often will never be overcome. The
brain seems to get hardwired in believing in the non-rational ideas
it was fed so many times and with so much 'compelling' force.

There often may be long religious revivals and reactions but
on longer terms science and associated education
probably will (albeit very slowly) void ancient belief systems.

However, religion can very well hang on for a very long time,
even when becoming unsatisfactory to many more people, e.g.
when there are no other enticing spiritual/social frameworks
as substitutes or replacements. For scientists that could well be
science and the wonders, the size and the unbelievable beauty
and complexity of the physical universe and its inhabitants.

But the masses are poorly educated and never get enthralled
by nature or by scientific exploration and thought. They do
get enthralled by food, drink, entertainment, sports, and
the unending accumulation of material possessions:
The absence or substitute for or even opposite of spirituality.

This basic science-religion conflict is also why so many religions,
including Christianity and Islam, in their core will stay so anti-
science. They can never embrace a much more rational belief
system that so clearly exposes the fallacies in their inherited
belief system.

FUTURE and HOPE
===========================================
Why is rejecting Christianity in my opinion a step forward?

Instead of believing in fixed philosophies, laws and taboos
created hundreds or even thousands of years ago
(by people who did not know any better (not their fault)),
it is much better to determine your own beliefs and truths.

This goes hand in hand with investigating and coming to grips
with the many insights provided by science.

That will enable us to leave behind outdated laws, fears,
prejudices, misconceptions, racism, intolerance,
supremacy feelings, and inherited ideas about death,
heaven, hell, sin, soul, gods, etc.

That freedom will jettison all the religious ballast that is a
constant obstruction and obstacle to a better, more rational
and more humane world.  Rejecting Christianity is not a loss,
it is an opportunity for a more tolerant and humane world.

Rationality does not ENSURE more humanity, but in my
opinion it is a more promising path than non-rationality.
Rationality combined with strong humanism may guide us
to a better world of fairness, the alleviation of poverty,
of global sharing and caring, to justice and peace and
to the avoidance of wars.

Do I think this is feasible? Not that much: Power, greed, racism,
and power politics are super-strong human and societal forces
(for injustice, wars, killing, irrationality, waste, destruction,
hate, intolerance, violence, etc.).

But it may show the direction of hope which we can then analyze
rationally. That may enable us to create a just and surviving
world by building stable global structures of peace that
restrict and permanently bind the negative forces.

Michael M. Terra - Carl Sagan's Billions


======================================= MODERATOR'S COMMENT:
To readers:  You may want to adjust your "follow up" line when replying to this
article.  -Baird


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