Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Fear of God, Or of Losing God

Above photo is copyright Patrick Potts, 2010, and may NOT be used in any form without explicit written permission.

   How do you feel when someone suggests that there is no god? Most who have an active faith in a god react with a passive aggressive, if not fully aggressive, defensive attitude. Others will smile and say something along the lines of "I will pray for you."  But why is this? What is it about simply suggesting the possibility that puts those of faith in a defensive stance? Of course, I'm not trying to suggest that every Christian I have ever met acts this way. That's simply not true. I have had the pleasure of knowing several religious people that are okay with other's beliefs, however different.

   So what of the others? The people that react as if they are being personally attacked when someone questions their god? I have wondered for a long time now whether it's a fear of God and his great, overreacting punishment against the people he created, or if it's a fear of losing God himself. Or herself, itself, whatever. I thought about this when I saw a mother trying to convince her child to stop playing with toys at a store and to come along. The mother said, "I'm leaving, come on. I'm going to leave without you."  The child looked with fear at her mother and then back at the toys, but eventually couldn't stand the thought of being without her mother and went along with her.

  It's common, I know, and I'm sure you've either seen it or said it before. What is actually going on though? Is the child truly afraid of losing her mother, or has the child learned that the next level of punishment for not obeying is worse. Christianity describes God as a Father of all. In logical perspective, this would be an obvious choice for an early, male dominated human culture to develop. Christianity from the very beginning reinforces the image of God as a great father of all. A parental figure who is both loving and chastising.

  A Christian may fear the ideas of one questioning God for the simple fact that this would mean swift punishment in some form or another. I have heard many clamoring over recent natural disasters, saying that it was the wrath of God, punishing mankind for all the detestable things we do. Like show cleavage. Or the words of a clearly senile man saying that Haiti was struck with a quake from God for some old pact with the devil. If we are to believe this, then by all means, let's bite our tongues! The mere questioning of God's existence may send us to our rooms for eternity.

  Another idea is based around the fear of abandonment. If you leave a child alone long enough, they will become quite upset and likely want the presence of a parent. I see our time as the denial period for religion. It's at this point that the child is furious and upset, knowing full well that his or her parents will return and embrace them in love. When the suggestion is made that the parents will never return, or possibly never existed, the idea is unfathomable. But here is where the example of the child separates from the question of God.

  The child has seen his or her parents. The child knows them by sight, smell, and sound. Christians have not seen their God. They have read all the stories (well, some have, most Christians don't even read the Bible), they have heard sermons all about their heavenly parent and his, at times, barbaric laws. The fear of punishment has been instilled for years. But the parent has never been seen. The children are all in a fuss about how great and important their parent is, but they've never met. It's like going to an orphanage and telling the children since birth that they DO have parents, and that they WILL come and pick them up some day, but don't do anything bad or they will know and they may abandon you completely! 

  It goes without saying that this is far beyond a simple answer. In my experience, the answer is a fear of losing God. A fear of losing a parent, regardless of whether or not that parent ever existed. Most Christians are brought up in Christianity from a young age and are indoctrinated with the idea of God being a father figure. I do believe that the fear of punishment is there, but not until later when the story of Jesus is introduced and the ramifications of denying God are made apparent. What better trick question than, "accept this or go to hell forever." Especially to a child. From that point on I believe it becomes more of a fear of punishment and abandonment. Fear drives humanity to extremes, it's no different for religion. So with that, ask yourself one question; feel free to answer it however you like. What scares you most, God never existing or God punishing you for a lack of faith? Feel free to comment with your answer or keep it to yourself, but please try to be honest with yourself.

Bonus question: What sort of "true love" comes with conditions such as "love me or go to hell forever" ?  With this sort of thinking, would it not be okay with God to just put a gun to another person's head and tell him or her that he or she had better love you? I think we all know the answer here. :P

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Truth Behind My Questions

Above photo is copyright Patrick Potts, 2010, and may NOT be used in any form without explicit written permission.


Good evening! It’s been a long time since I even looked at this blog. As mentioned in my last post, my brain works in a very strange way. I can’t honestly say that I will update this now any more than then, but I hope to release some of the thoughts bouncing around in my mind. Now, before I go on ranting about religion and science, I feel it’s necessary to explain the current state of my beliefs.

On the topic of god, God, or deity: I believe that there may be a higher power, possibly even a deity. However, my opinion on what this deity is like is not based on any book simply due to the fact that humans are incredibly imaginative. Now, what exactly do I mean by this? I mean to say, quite bluntly, that the Bible and other such religious books could be “corrupted” by the pen of human kind. And that is assuming that books like the Bible were anything more than a fabrication over a long period of time.

My opinion on the Bible and other such books is based on the inconsistencies within. When we read the Bible from front to back, God himself is inconsistent. The Old Testament describes God in a very different way from the New Testament, with a few exceptions. In a relatively short amount of time, especially for a deity, God changes from supporting wars for “his” people, to sending his son to save everyone and tell them to love thine enemy. There is something very basic about the Old Testament God, something very human. He is jealous, vengeful, determined to make “his” people, well, his. This is utterly ridiculous to me. There is no reason for an absolutely powerful, omnipotent deity to be concerned with something so trivial.

Many believe I am an atheist after I explain that. I never deny the existence of God; I deny the infallibility of the Bible. I deny the idea that a deity would be as petty and confused as the Old Testament God, but still capable of making our incredibly complex universe. I believe that if God exists, he is not the God of the Old Testament. Does that make him the God of the New Testament? No, since Revelations brings everything back to those wacky times when a deity feels the need to behave irrationally in order to judge his own imperfect creation. If you feel the need to define me, define me as an agnostic. I believe there could be something more, but I refuse to base my life around one unprovable belief and claim human written text as my infallible truth.

On the topic of evolution: I do believe fully that evolution exists and is still occurring. If I were to believe in the Bible again, I would still believe in evolution. I believe that if there is a god, he/she/it would have used evolution. Evolution is apparent to me in every living thing. Some may argue that we can’t prove evolution, that we haven’t been able to replicate evolution in order to prove it. How could we possibly see the immensely intricate process of evolution when we only live to see a second of our own evolutionary time frame? Some will argue that evolution cannot be true since we are still the single most advanced organism on the planet. Why has no other animal evolved to the point of human-level intelligence?

I don’t have an absolute answer for this. Evolution is the adaptation to an environment, not a constant advancement. The earth we live on, this spinning collection of cosmic elements, has gone through a staggering number of changes through its life. To this day this planet goes through major changes. It is much more likely to me that we evolved rather than the idea we were created by a being that has always been. Just one of those theories has scientific evidence to back it up.

I don’t care to cause anyone to stop believing whatever they believe. I only care to discuss what I believe and why I believe it, as well as share what I find to be beautiful aspects of the universe we are part of. If you feel that I am attempting to damage the faith of Christians, then let me ask you, what is faith if you can’t test it with questions?