I began to doubt my faith, and ultimately became an atheist, through my study of theology and the Bible, and I know that I am not alone in this respect. Philosophical arguments and scientific discovery are great in there own right, but I think that many of the best reasons to reject the existence of the gods on which currently practiced religions are based is in the scriptures that define those gods. With this group I would like to deconstruct religion by first tearing away the bricks that form its walls: namely, scripture.
I am one of those people that has always been naturally a little on the skeptical side. I went to Catholic school for four years. I think the real defining moment for me was when the nun that taught my religious studies class announced that "Religion is not a salad bar, you can't just take what you like and leave the rest." This is, of course, true and absurd at the same time. There are beliefs championed by religion that I know to be false; conversely, religion you make up on your own seems rather hollow and meaningless yet none of the available religions are compatible with reality. Sometimes I almost think that I have more respect for the hard-line psychopaths and their willingness to follow the letter of the law unquestioningly more than the wishy-washy "salad bar" religious people. But then I think, "wait, those people are totally effing nuts!"
Long story short, neither position makes much sense. After that, I sort of woke up to the realization that I never much believed any of it. It was sort of like playing a game.
I really enjoyed Bart Ehrman's book "Misquoting Jesus: Who Changed the Bible and Why," but I have never been able to hang with actually studying the bible. I have read everything in it at least twice, but it doesn't really stick in my head. That being said, I love reading about what other people think about it. I will lurk and ask dumb questions.
I 'toyed' with Christianity in my teens but was never serious about it. Members of my family are fundamentalist Christians and seeing my brother struggle with his faith inspired me to start reading religious criticism.
Later, (in my 30s), I went to University and did a BA majoring in history, literature and cultural studies. I went on to get a first class honours degree in cultural studies. I wanted to do my PhD on the literary history of the Bible, but was talked out of it by an arrogant Professor who reduced me to tears - "You have no Aramaic - you have no Hebrew? Why are you wasting my time?????".
So, I chose to look into an altogether different subject, but, due to illness, I had to retire from my studies just short of submitting my thesis. Damn!
I have no academic qualifications in textual analysis or Bible criticism, but I have been reading on these subjects for nearly 25 years now.
I am no expert - it's been a casual pastime for me, but I'm now starting to get into it far more seriously. I look forward to learning lots from everybody here.
Hello all! I love this group idea! My name is Lucy, and i am from Scotland, although now about to move to London!
I am fascinated by folklore, and stories - and i love comparative religion/mythology.
I'm currently writing an article on the historicity of Jesus, asking whether or not there is enough evidence in support of his claimed existence - hopefully it won't be too much longer until i am finished!
We don't accept that god exists, due to lack of evidence; i don't see why we should automatically accept that Jesus existed either, since - as of yet, in my research, i have found no evidence beyond written claims - the exact same 'evidence' we have for the existence of a god!!
I have been an atheist since i was about 10 - and by that i mean an atheist through choice since, it was only then that i actually discovered that it is possible that there is no god - i had been taught at school (never by my parents) that the biblical accounts were THE true accounts, never actually told of any other possibility, simply told as fact that this is how life began etc etc.
At the age of eight, i studied evolution for the first time, it fascinated me and i have been fascinated by the subject ever since. I never really understood that it was such a controversial subject, for the few fundamentals out there that is - but these days i wonder to myself; if i, at eight years old was able to understand it - why can't grown up creationists? This has resulted in my fascination with the human mind, and why people think what they think, the reasons why people believe, is to me - more interesting in 'what' the belief is in - it is something that is important throughout the world; 'why do Aboriginies believe what they believe? and likewise, why do evangelical christians believe what they believe?' I explore these interests from both a psychological and anthropological view and i am completely fascinated by it.
I am convinced that the 'reasons' people believe are actually psychological and, as people grow - after a lifetime of being taught that it is actually okay to 'think' in such a way - they don't understand how to think logically - a select few are lucky enough to discover this later on in life, whilst others simply go the opposite direction and become even more extreme.
This is the reason why i believe it to be highly important that the people of this world are taught how to use their logical, critical mind more. It's okay to use your emotional brain, but it is not okay to use your emotional brain in a subject that shouldn't have anything to do with ones emotions.
I was raised in a bible-based cult that believed in faith healing through laying on of hands, spiritual warfare, casting out demons, etc. It was strict and followed the OT laws more closely than the churches I tried out in my teen years. I was afraid of being "lukewarm" but didn't agree with some of the dangerous practices followed by my original group. I was very involved throughout the years, as a ministry office manager for the original cult, as Sunday School teacher (pre-k and middle schoolers), guitar player/singer in worship band, children's choir member, etc.
In college I majored in Middle East International Relations and made a lot of muslim women friends. I attended the SUMA (Sisters United Muslim Association) on campus, and it reminded me a LOT of women's groups at christian churches. They even handed out little "memory verse" cards from the Quran, like bible verses I'd gotten in Sunday School. Between the similarities I saw between the two faiths, and my studies of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, I began to question the role religion plays in society and why it was so obvious to me that christianity was right and islam was wrong. Why did I believe what I believed?
Of course that's the worst question a theist can ask, in terms of keeping faith. Once I started looking for answers, I found there weren't any good ones. I believed because I'd been indoctrinated. Christian "lite" wasn't any better or truer than the extreme form I grew up under, and all religion is bunk. The rest of my family has decided that church in general is benevolent and we were just in one "gone wrong"; I've decided church in general is inherently harmful and that we were just experiencing an extreme version of the same problem. I'm the only atheist, which is a bit lonely.
My name is Donna, and I live in Lichfield in Staffordshire which has the distinction of being the birthplace of Samuel Johnson, the famed lexicographer, also Charles Darwins grandfather lived here. There's other cool things here too, google it!
I have always had an interest in scripture, despite not being brought up to be religious; there was always a bible lying around but I was never "hit on the head" with it, so to speak. I have no religious upbringing, although my parents do have a quiet belief in a god. I've told them in the past that I don't believe in god(s), and its never been a big deal to them.
Despite my lack of religious upbringing, I find it hard to study scriptures dispassionately as most of it infuriates me! I am far from being an expert, but I hope to be able to contribute to discussions in this group, and I know I will increase my knowledge from the ideas we can share with each other.
My two years as a teenager at an Evangelical Christian school in Alaska left me disillusioned with Christianity. Certainly, there were things about the Christians I knew that bothered me. I did not want to be like them. But they were not the primary cause for my loss of faith. The real reason I began to question my religion, was because I read the Bible from cover to cover for the first time. It was the book itself that bothered me because I couldn’t understand it simply by reading. With only a teenage understanding of the world around me and very little knowledge of history, I was ill equipped to interpret the Bible. But, the Christians I knew seemed to know even less history than I did. It was obvious that my school course materials about the Bible were slanted and not the whole story. I “aced” every test in my Old Testament Survey; but, only because I gave the expected answers rather than what I really thought made sense. The whole educational format of the school was based in rote knowledge. I guess critical thinking skills were not conducive to producing good Christians.
At the end of those two years of Bible study, I felt I knew for certain less about Jesus than when I started. Was he the son of God and the finest example for me to emulate? Was he a fiction, but still a good role model? Or was he a lunatic and not someone I should follow. At age seventeen, I realized that I had no way of answering these questions and I wasn’t likely to know anything for certain for a long time. So I decided to reserve the right to change my mind about being a Christian. I put the subject on my mental “back burner” and went on with the more immediate concerns of a teenager.
During the past 25 years, I continued to seek out answers to these questions, and I have found several that satisfy me. However, it was the pursuit of this knowledge and the various side trips on this journey that became the joy of my life. I became a perennial student of history and archaeology. I came to know through their writings and archaeological remains many artists, poets, historians, political leaders, philosophers, as well as regular people with a story to tell. These ancient people I came to love and count as some of my best friends. Although I am now definitely not a Christian, I value that time in my life when I thought I was one because it was the beginning of my lifelong love affair with studying ancient history.
I was raised by an atheist father and a nominally catholic mother in germany. When i was a child we had two religions: roman catholic and lutheran protestant. Everything else was a cult. I remember my father making fun of our village priest and being very vocal about the religious non-sense. When I moved to the US I was totally unprepared for the way religion permeates EVERYTHING. I lived with my in-laws for a while and they were very religious, church several times a week and of course church on TV. I was 19 and thought that I must be wrong and they had to be right because it seemed to me that everyone was religious. So, I had a born again experience, joined a church, went 2 -3 times a week and then I was asked to teach sunday school. So, I went to the library to learn more about the text I was teaching. There I found out that there was a question on who wrote the text, that it was written at least 30 to 80 years after Jesus lived. I felt lied to by the the pastor (a Phd in psych). The more I read the more I realized that there was no way that I could take the bible literally. I started university and expanded my circle of friends and realized that I was not alone in my disbelief. Since then I have been extremely interested in how and why religions are aquired. I am very interested in early christianity and love Bart Ehrman. I wish i could read greek, aramaic and hebrew. I am still working out why I am so facinated with this topic.
Okay, I am a wee bit of a geek. I find it most fascinating that contemporary computing with its attendant pattern-searching, pattern-recognition techniques lends itself very well to the critical examination of texts, especially "sacred texts". This all sets very well with my personal unbelief and my anti-religious attitude.
And, personally, I am just plain tired of the endless barrage of shopworn quotes I encounter in everything from daily business to obnoxious door-knocking individuals who claim to know what is better for me than what I know to be good for me...
I was raised low-church Episcopal. Noticing that we seemed to read from the same few chapters and stories over and over I wondered what was in the rest of the bible so I read it cover-to-cover for the first time somewhere around age 11. Lots of stories and verses and concepts seemed to conflict and raise questions before that, but upon reading the bible all the way through I was in an ocean of paradox.
I did what I'd done with all the other religious paradoxes before that: Stuck my fingers in my ears and refused to ask the hard questions. Because deep down I knew those questions might (and looked like they would) lead to my religion being bad and/or false, and I knew my family, my peers and my society would have none of that. By age 11 it's hard enough to fit in as it is.
Around 18 I followed in Mom and Dad's footsteps and became a Lay Minister. Earning the title required zero bible study, but a good deal of learning rules and regulations of various ceremonies. Which candle gets lit first. How to give someone wine without spilling it on them. How to read out loud to a crowd. Basically, "Do what you're ordered and you get to wear the fancy robe."
A few years into it I felt like if I'm to have a title of 'minister' I really should know more about the bible and church history than Joe Pewsitter. In studying these things I could no longer ignore the big questions. The biggest of all: "What makes our religion 'right' and other religions 'wrong?'" From there, "Why do we follow bible verse A and not bible verse B? Why do we think X is literally true and Y is not? What is our evidence, other than we like A and X and not B and Y?"
Atheism soon followed.
But my fascination with how the bible came to rule the lives of so many for so long only got stronger.
I don't study nearly as much as I'd like to, but I find I know a hell of a lot more than any Theist I've yet to debate. I started learning biblical Hebrew some time ago. It's actually a fascinating, poetic, beautiful language. And so wildly different in structure from the European languages, no wonder the bible is so horribly mistranslated! It's very eye-opening to delve into when and how various scriptures were translated and by whom - which has a lot to do with the political slant of the translation. It's very telling that it was a capital crime for the first half of Christianity to even read a bible and even today, the methods used to talk Joe Pewsitter out of reading it cover-to-cover for himself.
I'm sure the Q'uran has a similarly sordid history.
"If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles."-SunTzu
Was a catholic however Since i was a kid it fascinates me to read mythology and Religion. I got carried away and read the bible...big mistake! Anyway Its good to study religious texts because Its a good leverage against theists that prosecute us with their righteous bigotry.