Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Let me clarify

Wow, I'm an a$$hole, apparently. I suspect because the point I was trying to make was not well made - or people didn't read my full blog entry. (Two emails to me regarding my post claimed I was wrongly bashing Nathan when Nathan was a good Christian who is just trying to make a difference.)

For a little background, read Nathan's original post (as found in my previous blog entry) and then read the blog entry itself. (Nathan has since responded in the comments and on his blog, too.).
  1. Nathan's actions and attempts need to be supported and commended. He is trying to right a great number of the actions/methods of a system that he is part of (church/churches).
  2. I really do respect Nathan. He is bright, witty and intelligent and, from what I can gather, actually cares.
  3. He is not a cafeteria Christian and he doesn't attend church to ensure he meets the cut-off for "heaven". I don't believe he attends church on the 7th (or 1st) day of the week to make up for the ills of his ways the other 6 days of that week (yes, I'm accusing others of such).
  4. His letter to the editor was/is necessary. He pointed out, to the religious, some harsh realities and admitted, to the non-believer, that those problems are recognized.

Having said all of that, let me explain my position.

  1. I don't believe in an afterlife, the historicity of a divine Jesus Christ or that the bible is the inspired word of god.
  2. I do not believe in god and, likely, would go much further to say that there is no evidence to justify belief in a god.
  3. Religion does not deserve the respect that it is given. It is harmful and anything that is truly as good as they claim it to be should not be afraid of criticism. (It's like claiming that someone who is perfect and all-knowing would be jealous. What? They do claim that?)
  4. Not all religion is bad but I take issue with supporting or encouraging it because it always wishes to go the next step to interfere with rational thought of its followers. Think for yourself. Question everything.

From this, my point in the original post was to say, basically, that "Yes, Nathan is right." The solution (though not implied or inferred in his post - but the reality that needs to be considered) that Nathan has chosen is to be a part of a "new" type of church - "The Story". It is that part that I take issue with. His church is different - it is a step in the right direction but if you are going to take a step, take a few steps.

As different as Nathan's church is, it can only be so different. There will be the continued expense of pastors, buildings, upkeep, etc., and that money could be used to do so many other things. (If only the needless waste of money were its only and greatest fault.) If Jesus had ever existed and lived the life that Christians wish he did, he would be ashamed of the waste of money and the encouragement of non-thought.

So, Nathan, thank you for speaking out. I respect that. I don't understand the need/desire to be a part of a church, however.

(Note: Money is only one small issue that I, and others, have with organized religion. I have posted other blog entries on the harms/troubles of religion - do not attack me for simply addressing one, seemingly pointless, issue. Religions seek donations with many people believing that most of the money goes to supporting the poor/homeless/helpless when that is blatantly false. Most of the money goes to supporting the institution. The fact that people are being lied to, abused and herded is a much more important issue to tackle and I have and will continue to do so.)


NathanColquhoun said...

Hey Skeptic (I'll post this on your site too)

I never thought you were bashing me, I thought it was a well grounded and logical critique and encouragement, so I'll take it as both, but thanks for clarifying. Not sure who is reading your site or commenting to you, but hopefully they were graceful in their words to you.

I share a lot of your struggles with religion, but I just choose to work from within the system in a lot of ways, it's a different kind of route all together, but I would say it is just as entertaining and has just as much logic and faith mixed in it as you have in your beliefs.

You are right on with your point. theStory is new and it is different, but it is far from the church that I imagine being an actual force of good in the world. I think we make beautiful strides, and great things come from people in our community, but we are also filled with pride and selfishness and I'm sure we will constantly struggle with it.

You are right, we can only be so different. The things you struggle with about church, I struggle with about church.

I appreciate what you said about money. While money is the vice of many of us in North American culture, I don't think it is the final sign of showing whether someone, or some church is virtuous or not. Of course, this isn't to excuse the massive waste of money that churches and individuals have thrown away at corrupt systems to appease their own guilt, but it does at least reassure me that there can be some good amongst everything else that haunts the church.

I don't know how else to explain my position to you. I don't generally look at my position on religion and church as an overly religious position. I've grown up seeing religion be used for nothing more than to further selfish desires of the people in power. I think religion (or whatever we want to call it) in its purest form can actually be an act of beauty in the world. I would like to think that any religion that I could adhere to is one that encouraged grace, love, peace, putting others before yourself and inclusion to the whole of the human race. Generally religion is though of as a list of rules of do's and don'ts and 7 steps for salvation in your afterlife, and most religions, Christianity included has been unfortunately reduced to nothing more than that. I do however, believe there is more going on than that, and that is where my faith lies.

So I'm a skeptic right alongside of you. I'm skeptical towards any religion, including my own. I'm skeptical towards anyone that says God told them something. I'm skeptical towards anyone who doesn't allow room for good conversation and for the strongest of beliefs to be held up for question. I'm skeptical towards those that say they are following a religion but really are just pushing nonsensical jargon down whoever will listen, and usually only because of their own insecurities about what they believe. I'm skeptical towards any religion that lies and doesn't make room for truth (in medicine, science, math or physics or anything else) and I'm skeptical towards all the abuse and horrific things done in the name of God. Without skeptics like you, we are never pushed for truth and we usually end up staying content with whatever lies feel good to us that day. So thanks again.

C Woods said...

I, too, am a non-believer. I admit, I am tired of religious people trying to make the U.S. into a theocracy and "save" me while they are doing it, but I'm sure I could sit down with both the blogger here and Nathan and have a great and amicable conversation about the pros and cons of religion.

sarniaskeptic said...

C Woods: I completely agree with you. I've engaged Nathan because I think only good can come of it. I'm not one for pandering to the religious (as I'm sure you can see in my blog) and I do think that science and religion conflict.

I am amazed at the ability to compartmentalize individual beliefs but I know most people can do it.

We haven't dealt with the issues of science but I do wonder how Nathan would answer questions like:
How old is the earth?
Are we related to all species on earth?
Did dinosaurs and humans co-exist?