The Texas Republican Party platform for 2012 »« Dillahunty just told me to do this

Why I am an atheist – John Hamill

I think that my journey away from religion has been a reasonably uncommon one, since I had to guard against confirmation bias for atheistic arguments, rather than those for the Roman Catholic faith in which I was raised. That is to say, when I first had doubts about the Christian story, I already earnestly hoped that the God I had been taught about did not exist. I was wary that my doubts about Christ rising from the dead had been driven by my instinctive desire that I didn’t want this guy to be the Son of God, rather than from any objective consideration of reality.

I just thought that this character was so annoying that I couldn’t bear the thought of having to account for myself to someone like that after I died. In particular, I thought it generally disagreeable to engage with a person you profess to love, by arranging for several days of torture and a gruesome murder on their behalf, without ever mentioning your intention in advance. I imagine that anyone who has had a Roman Catholic education will share my memories of the incessant guilt about the sacrifice of Jesus. “If Christ endured the Passion for you then why would you object to giving up an hour for Mass every Sunday?”. Well, none of what Christ endured during the Passion is likely to make my list of Top Ten Fun Things To Do On A Friday Night … but since I don’t recall ever requesting the blood letting, I’m not sure why I should continue to feel guilty about it for the rest of my life.

My kids started school in the last few years and here in Ireland there isn’t really an alternative to a Roman Catholic education. As a consequence, I have been delighted to hear the atheist argument being put more bluntly and forcibly in public over recent years (not least on your fine blog, Mr. Myers). I was initially wary of my enthusiasm though. Maybe it was just convenient for me to believe that Hell didn’t exist because I didn’t want my kids to be afraid of it all their lives? What convinced me that the atheist arguments are valid though … was The Bible. I had imagined that it would be really difficult to tell my kids that they didn’t necessarily have to believe all the Bible stories that they had read about in school, even if the morality described was well founded. Turns out it is not so tough to contradict the morality of the Bible stories when your kid tells you that it was a good idea for God to harden Pharaoh’s heart because it was so cool when all the water fell on the soldiers and they all drowned. Quite.

John Hamill
Ireland

Comments

  1. sockeyesalman says

    John H.,

    regarding the “bloodletting,” I recall that human sinning (by not keeping God’s Law and th Ten Commandments) is so offensive to the Christian god that the only thing the would propitiate his righteous anger was the blood and death of his Son. That supreme blood sacrifice was the only thing he think of that the would satisfy his anger and enable him to forgive sinners. So, that’s the only plan he could come up with that would enable repentant sinners to be saved for Heaven; the non-repentant would be punished forever in Hell. Me thinks this god was invented by people to control and exploit other people by means of fear, guilt and intimidation. I doubted these kinds of dogmas at confirmation time. It, however, took a long time and a lot of critical thinking and reading to become comfortable with rejecting the dogmas and doctrine I’d been force-fed for decades. At least I now feel honest with myself and the guilt thing is receding.
    Cheers, eh!

  2. fullyladenswallow says

    Thank you for the post, John.

    I imagine that anyone who has had a Roman Catholic education will share my memories of the incessant guilt about the sacrifice of Jesus. “If Christ endured the Passion for you then why would you object to giving up an hour for Mass every Sunday?”.

    Incessant and insidious. It’s really about control isn’t it? I remember them playing the “sacrifice” card not only about mass attendance but meatless Fridays, the questioning of authority, etc. I think “offer it up” was the phrase the nuns would use to circumvent our objections to binding rules.

    It really angers and sickens me to think of all the emotional energy wasted on enduring their manipulation for all those years. Part of me says, “it wasn’t all that bad, was it?”, but then I realize it really was just that bad.