Why I am an atheist – James Willamor

I grew up very active in a conservative Southern Baptist church. I
served in music ministry, set up Vacation Bible School, went on
domestic and international mission trips, took Bible courses at a
Baptist college, and chaperoned youth trips. I truly believed in God
with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul.

I always thought that Christians became atheists because they were mad
a God; that it is an act of rebellion against giving God total control
of their life. The complete opposite happened to me.

I drifted away from the faith for several years because I became
disillusioned with the mingling of right wing politics with the
pulpit, but then I discovered several progressive Christian writers
such as Shane Claiborne and Donald Miller, and I felt a renewed zeal
to study the Bible and pursue my personal relationship with God. It’s
funny that this pursuit of God led to my atheism.

Several years ago I traveled to Japan and China and visited Shinto
shrines and Buddhist temples and it occurred to me that these people
that I was meeting and getting to know have morals and ethics often as
great as or greater than most Christians I know. I read Confucius
Lives Next Door by T.R. Reid and pondered how can so many Asians have
such high moral standards, lower crime rates, strong communities and
families, all without Jesus?

Around this same time, over the span of several years, I began to
learn more about the world around me. When I was little, God was
bigger than I could imagine and there was no truth, no morality
outside God. One day I came across this thought exercise: “If God told
you to kill someone, would you do it?” Of course the answer would be
that God would never ask me to do that. “But if he did tell you, that
it was for the greater good, part of his plan?” I would have to answer
no. My morals would never allow me to take another life. I’m a firm
believer in non-violence and pacifism. At this moment I was almost
shocked to realize what this means: my values go beyond God – go
deeper than God. It is as if God got a little smaller, or the universe
as I know it got a little bigger.

As I studied the Bible more in my quest to grow closer to God, the
more issues with theology I discovered. Perhaps the greatest issue I
had was with salvation, or put simply, “who goes to heaven and who
goes to hell.” If salvation is though faith in Jesus alone, then it is
unjust to condemn those who have never heard the Gospel, and equally
unfair if these people get a “free pass” to heaven while those who, to
varying degrees, have heard the Gospel are judged.

The more and more I learned about the world, the more I disagreed with
the exclusivity of faith in Christ. Somebody who earnestly says a
prayer accepting Jesus, then goes about life as usual, is more
deserving of heaven than a Buddhist monk who dedicates his entire life
to feeding the poor and clothing the needy, and caring for the sick?
After all, Matthew 25 pretty plainly states that those who do “unto
the least of these” are rewarded with heaven and those who selfishly
do not are condemned. How do you reconcile “faith alone” with this
teaching? How does simply saying a prayer supersede this? Maybe just
praying the “Sinner’s prayer” and repenting of sins is not enough.

I thought that perhaps I am a Universalist – that there are many paths
in life and all people will eventually be reconciled to God. But if
this is true, then why is there a need to believe in God anyway?
What’s the difference, as long as I seek to live out the message of
Matthew 25 and seek to “love my neighbor as myself?”

Still, I tried fervently to seek God in spite of growing doubts. I
wanted to believe that he existed. I prayed that he would show me the
way. Lying in bed at night I prayed until I cried, begging that he
would restore my faith. I read more Christian books and studied the
Bible more fervently.

Eventually I accepted what my heart and mind was telling me – there is
not God. It’s not that I didn’t believe in Jesus’ teaching, but that
his divinity and the existence of a God seemed increasingly unlikely
in light of what I was learning about the world around me. I never
stopped believing in the Bible in the sense that it is the greatest
source of moral truth in my life. Jesus’ teachings such as the Sermon
on the Mount and Matthew 25 form the basis of my ethics. I will always
follow my conscience and seek peace, justice, equality for all people
through love.

I guess some Christians will say it is okay – people take many paths
and all people will be reconciled to God eventually. Some will say
that I’ll eventually “come back around.” Some will say that I was
never a Christian to begin with, or that I was not predestined, or
elected, by God. My faith was completely real to me for the better
part of two decades. I was certain that God heard and answered my
prayers. I felt his supernatural presence in still quiet moments of
worship.

But now I realize that it was just a creation of my own mind. I want
to be honest with myself and use reason and logic, not blind faith, to
explore the world. Life as a human being is very precious, and it is
something to be cherished. I want to spend my life creating “heaven”
on earth for the “least of these.”

James Willamor
United States

There is no god

A mighty battle to settle the question once and for all was fought on the playing fields of America today, and a mere mortal, Tom Brady, kicked Jesus’ champion’s ass all over the field 45-10. I think the matter is finally over.

This is what happens when you vaingloriously give your deity responsibility for carrying a stupid little football game: his impotence might be exposed.


Think this is silly? 54% of Republicans believe god is helping Tebow on the field. Jamie Kilstein sets ‘em straight.

Her prospects for a future in art journalism may have just dimmed

Here is an exercise in pain: read this review of a concert performance:

As the concert progressed, I began to realize a certain "prettiness" in the performance, a lack of force, drive and even drama. I don’t think this is simply a cultural phenomenon (as in misunderstanding the Messiah’s content, message, meaning, etc…). I think it is a physio/cerebral problem. I’ve seen it happen in art and design, and even in science – a friend of mine was a Korean PhD student. At some level, I think Asians demonstrate some ability (i.e. memorization, or fast, scale-like exercises). But there seems to be an inability to create a synthesized beauty, which is what much of art (and order in Science) is about.

She didn’t care for the performance, so she leapt to the assumption that it was a “physio/cerebral problem” in all those Asians.

And she’s not done! She tallies up the precise numbers of Asians in various orchestra positions, and notes that there sure are a lot of them. It couldn’t be that they earned those positions by hard work, could it?

Not only are Asians dispersed around the orchestra, they are also given lead positions in certain sections. But they are notably absent in the brass and percussion sections. Although that could just be a matter of time, these instruments (brass and percussion) might actually be too physically demanding for them.

Because Asians are all little tiny people, I guess.

The author got a lot of pushback on her post, and wrote a response. Here, cringe some more.

Putting a majority (or a large number) of Asians in a western orchestra will invariably make it more Asian. Musicians like Mary Lee, who allow this to happen, have at some point to concede the inferiority of this type orchestra compared to that with a majority of whites, and either close off their eyes to this reality (as does Mary Lee), or perform grudgingly until better situations hopefully present themselves.

Why I am an atheist – MonZni

I grew up in the typical uber-conservative christian home, but always had doubts. The answers given to my questions were never quit satisfying, and always had the air of “If you pray/read the Bible hard enough, long enough, sincerely enough, you will understand!” I distinctly remember hysterically sobbing, clutching at my bedsheets, literally begging “God” to make me “feel” him like those around me claimed they could, or to understand. When nothing ever happened, I was told that God was testing me. I accepted that, begrudgingly.

Sadly, I still tried to conform– going to church, youth groups, attending a conservative Christian college, even serving as a missionary overseas. During that last experience, I had a few days where I might have actually “felt” God in my life (or what I was told was what God was like). . . . but the powers that be heard of my newfound joy and happiness and immediately called meetings about me, and emotionally and professionally ruined me. Years of church-abuse followed

I came back to the States, PISSED. I tried a non-denominational church, and while the people were nicer, I still felt that nagging sense that I just didn’t belong. I would never fit, I wasn’t good enough, I asked too many questions, I was a woman, I was a thinking woman, I was pretty– all reasons that I would never be heard, acknowledged, or taken seriously. Ever.

Finally, I realized that if my church was a boyfriend, he would be an abusive SOB, and anyone that knew and loved me would be BEGGING me to run away, run hard, just get away from that bipolar, controlling, abusive asshole. It was a eureka moment: I was in an abusive relationship!

I gave up religion, but didn’t know what else was out there. I thought I still believed in a god, something anyway. . . until I heard a woman interviewing a Catholic-turned-Atheist on the radio. And he was describing this new personal responsibility he had– no more asking God to do everything for him, now it was all on him. And while that sounded scary at first, I found the idea very attractive– you mean, I could control my own life? Sadly, it was a revolutionary thought. The interviewee also described how every day, every moment was now precious, because this life was all he had– there was no cheery there-after to lean upon. He talked about being a nicer, more generous, more loving person, because he wasn’t functioning under that huge Judgment Umbrella that Christians love so much. He sounded FREE. And while it sounded like an initially scary journey to begin, it sounded like one that would prove more than well worth the effort.

And he was right. It was interesting too, because it was only after I became an atheist that I felt all those things the Christians told me that God would bring me– happiness, confidence, a loving nature, a generous heart, the ability to see everything as beautiful, bright, colorful and breath-taking, money, respect, love from others, freedom from cruelty and abuse– the list goes on.

Suffice it to say, I am one ridiculously happy atheist!

MonZni
United States

Meddling bishops

Catholic-affiliated universities are often very good academically — I can think of a couple of estimable Catholic universities in my area. But I would never recommend that anyone attend one, for this reason.

Bishop Bambera of the Diocese of Scranton has recently requested that the University of Scranton – a Catholic and Jesuit university in Pennsylvania – withdraw its invitation to a women’s rights activist and former United States House of Representatives member, Majorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, who is scheduled to be the keynote speaker for a January 28 event at the University of Scranton encouraging women to become active in politics and learn more about the political system.

Why would anyone want to get an education under the thumbs of superstitious medieval clowns in gilt robes? Especially when they’re prone to silencing dissent? (I remember MMM well — she was my representative when I lived in Pennsylvania, until she was defeated by that Gingrichian wave. She’s good. She’s also pro-choice, so of course the Catholic Church hates her.)