Before I get to my "real" post for the day, I feel I need a disclaimer. I wrote this post and then thought, hmm, this really doesn't fit on my blog. But then you, my dear readers, suggested that this is my blog, so I get to decide what goes on it or not. So I decided I'll go ahead and post it here. Who knows, maybe I'll spark so much discussion we'll have to create a separate blog for this topic. Probably not. Maybe I'm the only person who finds this fascinating and I'll go back to ranting about gas stations, dumb laws, and facebook.
The post below is about religion, God, faith, and the Bible. (All holy books really, but most of the people I know are Christian.) You should know that I used to be a Catholic who went to church every Sunday. Somewhere on life's journey, I became an atheist. It is from here that I wrote this post.
And now, without further ado, my ultra serious blog post...
I just found out that Bart Ehrman has a new book out; it's called Forged. I will be running out to my local Amazon to pick up a copy as soon as I'm done with this post. I can't wait until it gets here. Bart Ehrman also wrote Misquoting Jesus, which is one if my all time favorites. Long before I read this book, it was the idea of authorship of the Bible that I found most troubling with my personal faith. Everything I believed was based on the Holy Word of the Bible. But why the Bible? Why not the Koran? Why not believe just the Old Testament but not the New? And what reason did I have to believe that the Bible was any more divinely inspired than the writings of Plato? My only basis for my beliefs was that this is what I had been taught. And what did those people who taught me about the divinity of the Bible know that I didn't know? They weren't around when the Bible was written any more than I was. It suddenly felt like we were playing a 2,000 year old game of telephone and I was pretty sure that the message had been garbled over the years. Heck, children today are taught that George Washington cut down a cherry tree and that was only a couple hundred years ago. Imagine what a tenfold difference would make. Plus, the New Testament was written at a time when the Roman gods were still believed to be real. People at the time clearly needed to invent explanations for what they didn't understand. Why should I believe that the Bible isn't part of that? Basically, I found that I had absolutely no reason to believe that the Bible was any more divine than any other book ever written. I couldn't really come up with a single good reason to think otherwise. And without the Bible, the entire foundation for faith of any kind disappeared. It was tough to deal with for a long time. I had been a Catholic my whole life and now I was an ath... I could not even say the word out loud for years. I didn't really believe there was a God anymore, I guess that makes me an athe... Years.
I'm over it now. Now I can say that I am an atheist. And I'll tell you the hardest part (for me) in going from being a Catholic to an atheist: no more heaven. (I guess that's not surprising.) News stories about the tragedies in the world are so much harder to bear. Children dying of starvation is tragic for people of faith; it is that much harder to imagine for people without a belief in heaven. To believe that the suffering some people have known is all there is or will be for those people. I've sometimes heard people wonder out loud what motivates non-believers to do good in the world. For me, it is a greater motivator. If there is no God, then we are the only ones who can help our fellow man.
In the years since I lost my faith, I have been so curious how so many people remain true to their faith when I did not. As soon as I began thinking about my beliefs and their basis, I realized that I didn't really believe any of it. I remember often thinking, "Better to believe and be wrong, than not believe and be wrong." And then I realized that this attitude wasn't really a belief, it was going through the motions just in case. I didn't really believe it. How do so many people continue their faith in the face of, what I see as, the utter lack of evidence for the divine. But it is often hard to have such conversations these days without seeming disrespectful. For example, I understand that others believe in God's existence, but to me He is as real as Santa Claus. And for many people, making that comparison in itself is disrespectful to their beliefs. So it's a fine line. But there is so much about faith that impacts the way we look at the world. From abortion and women's rights, to same-sex marriage and public education. So it seems like something we should be talking about more.
So while I wait for my exciting new book to arrive, I thought I'd throw out a question and see if anyone's open to the discussion. To my faithful readers, and by that I mean my readers who are people of faith:
Do you believe that your holy book is the Word of God? If so, why?