Recently, a reader wrote about their struggles with Christianity. I have been through similar struggles myself, though I have reached a conclusion contrary to that of the former contributor. As I grew older I began to see the Old Testament more as a justification for atrocity than an account chronicling the chosen people of God. Seeking solace in the New Testament left me peering into the heart of my religion, only to find the bankrupt echoes of a time long superseded.
I agree that Biblical literalism is a problem, but I feel resigning one's self to saying "... God was in the background making sure that everything was as it should be" is an extremely dangerous position. I would also suggest that a book condoning slavery, degradation of women, blood sacrifice, genocide and death for apostasy is a poor moral guide. At no time in history could such practices have contributed toward the betterment of humanity, and we should not give their ancient proponents any kind of cultural or allegorical justification.
If my reflections have revealed anything it is this: The God of Abraham is not good. Goodness is freedom, solidarity, and knowledge of the world around us. Goodness is leading a kind and honest life, not due to the promise of heaven and the curse of hell, but because that is what we, as humans, desire and deserve. In the words of Bertrand Russell: "The whole conception of a God is a conception derived from the ancient oriental despotisms. It is a conception quite unworthy of
free men ... We ought to stand up and look the world frankly in the face. We ought to make the best we can of the world, and if it is not so good as we wish, after all it will still be better than what these others have made of it in all these ages."
The unfounded beliefs we hold about the world threaten to undo all that we have achieved. Once we burned the library at Alexandria, today we may burn the world.