I didn't grow up celebrating Xmas.

My religious parents considered it a pagan holiday, along with Easter and all other holidays. We did, however, get a small gift for our birthdays. One year, my annual gift was a bible with my name engraved upon it. I had waited all year for my one gift and this was what I got, a bible. I must admit, I was a tad disappointed, but I smiled and graciously accepted it from my parents.

When I left home and was excommunicated from the church and my family, I took my bible with me, one of a few personal possession that I had.

Several years later, my border collie drug it off the shelf one day while I was away from home and tore it to shreds. I came home to find it scattered in pieces all over the living room floor. It made me feel weird. My conditioning throughout childhood to consider this book as a special, even holy collection of words, still clung to me. It was going to take a few more years to get rid of the god virus my brain had been infected with.

Yet, deep inside I already knew that the bible was just paper and print with no magical powers and as it turns out very little true wisdom.

After one removes the magic and miracles from the bible as Thomas Jefferson did, the next step would be to ignore all the bad bits that no longer jive with the progression of morality in modern societies. The support of slavery, the oppression of women, the beating of children, genocide and torture are finally being defined by secular societies as inhumane, cruel and unjust behaviors, making the bible harder and harder to admire.

Liberal Christians are currently forced to bend over backwards to align their progressive attitudes with the very book that they claim is the foundation of their entire religious belief system.

That's a problem for them and when you can catch them taking a breath between their strenuous efforts to explain away these horrendous bits of the bible, they appear unable to reconcile the glaring hypocrisy of their religious convictions.

Finally, when one goes on to remove the fluff, the inconsequential verses that often don't even add interest to the story element, the words that offer no wisdom and sometimes even seem so foolishly behind the times as to be obviously and glaringly irrelevant, any merit the book itself might have quickly dwindles.

What are we left with?

We are left with a few parables that Jesus delivered about loving thy neighbor as thyself and acts of charity to the poor and less fortunate, a compassionate way of living that when put into practice could make life an easier prospect. Yet, most people, religious or not, can barely manage to live charitably as a family let alone as a community. If all the religious people in the world could practice this and lead by example, there would be fewer wars, less poverty, fewer divorces, less broken individuals, more secure and happier children and safer communities.

The humanist understands this.

They have accepted the fact that if a hungry child is to be fed another human must see to it. Prayer is not a productive way to solve problems, only our actions fix problems and get the job done. Furthermore, most humanists are appalled at the horrors of the scriptures which are far to oppressive for the modern, progressive and enlightened mind to embrace.

The bible is indeed a very outdated book. It does not stand up well to the test of time. The very progress that societies have struggled to achieve is not supported by the holy scriptures.

The bible has, instead, served as an impediment to social progress. 

I'm a myth buster. My recent published book -  Have We Been Screwed? Trading Freedom for Fairy Tales - can be purchased on Amazon. 


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Comment by Chris on January 1, 2018 at 8:05pm

Perhaps if people studied the history of god and myth it may help. 

Of course it won't immediately help children

Reza Asian  is interesting to read and listen to.

Comment by Teresa Roberts on December 31, 2017 at 10:46am

Michael Penn, I think a good way of looking at this persistent attachment to religion is through the lens of cultural norms. Wherever a child is born in the world, they are going to grow up thinking that the way their society does things is the best way, maybe even the only way. So the religion of their parents and neighbors will most likely be the religion they choose. Except it's really not a choice. Most things in life aren't a choice. Most social norms were handed to us at birth and that's why we grow up living a life that is almost identical to everyone else's. Religion is no different. Cultural norms and expectations are far more successful at controlling human behavior than laws will ever be.

Comment by Teresa Roberts on December 31, 2017 at 10:27am

Chris, I don't know how we "get them over it" except to keep talking about it. As with any idea either new or old that goes against the norms of a society, change is sloooooow. Education and good information can make a difference, but it's never easy. People hate change. Even if the old way of doing things produces an outcome that they also hate, they prefer to stick with the old ways. You can see this phenomenon play out with every cultural norm known to humankind.  As a woman, I see so few females writing about atheism that in my opinion it remains a topic that is appears less relevant to women. They are often the caretakers of the next generation and if women have no female role models that are brave enough to speak on this forbidden topic, women are less likely to share good information with their children. At best, their kids get mixed messages about religion. Even on the smallest level, the god virus can infiltrate a child's brain and cling in a dormant state for years. I'm forever shocked at the number of women who attack my beliefs as an outspoken atheist, however. Even a hardcore feminist who is dedicated to equal rights for women, will fly in my face to defend a book that clearly sets the stage for female oppression. Go figure!

Comment by Chris on December 30, 2017 at 12:13pm

A huge problem is how do you get them over it?

There always seems to be a residual problem of resentment and  lingering doubts.

Comment by Michael Penn on December 30, 2017 at 11:11am

Your paragraph "what are we left with?" describes it all very well. As for prayer I believe it was Joan Denoo from this site who pointed out that we can get the same results by praying to a milk jug.

Put this together with a normal mind of modern times and you see how outdated the bible really is. It contains exaggerated fairy tales designed to be accepted in the Bronze Age. "Faith" is used unfairly and believers really explain Paul saying things like "500 people saw the risen Jesus and most of them are still with us today." Why re we not seeing Jesus today in 2017? The only obvious answers are that he went away or that he never was there in the first place. Isn't this god the same yesterday,  today, and forever?

Back again to the apologist use unfairly of the word "faith."

Comment by Teresa Roberts on December 30, 2017 at 10:01am

Loren, a word like cloistered brings up visions of young, ignorant children who join a nunnery and are then required to take a vow of chastity, silence and ultimate separation from society. I guess many religions equate that with being devout but I think of it as a waste of a life.

Comment by Teresa Roberts on December 30, 2017 at 9:58am

Chris, your story about the naive homeschooled kid is heartbreaking and not uncommon these days. Religious people who chose to live in a closed society bear the easily identifiable marks of a cult. The more effort they put into keeping their followers and children uninformed and segregated from mainstream life, the more cultish they become. Ugh!

Comment by Loren Miller on December 30, 2017 at 6:27am

He ... didn't know anyone thought any different until he joined the Navy.

This is among the great tragedies foisted on KIDS who are home-schooled: that they are so cloistered from the world that they have no idea of alternative opinions or thoughts regarding how the world works.  This is indoctrination-as-child-abuse, if anything is.

It also points out an enormous irony.  The parents think that their god is the great power in the world, yet this power isn't persuasive enough to be able to tolerate the above-mentioned alternatives ... which reminds me:

Why is it that this supposedly almighty god can do anything and know anything, but cannot withstand skepticism? A god that shrinks from a simple question is pathetic and not worthy of recognition, let alone worship.
-- me

Comment by Chris on December 30, 2017 at 5:27am

Thanks for the post Teresa.

Your book sounds interesting.

I met a kid who had tatooes of Jesus on his arms. He said he was home schooled and didn't know anyone thought any different until he joined the Navy.

The kid I met said he felt betrayed by his parents and the community he grew up in after he was able to leave home and see the wider world..

I'm guressing you may have a similar story in your book.

Comment by Teresa Roberts on December 29, 2017 at 3:29pm

Very, very well said, Loren Miller!



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