Monday, September 9, 2013

How I Became a Christian and Other Breaks with Reality

My friends have asked me how it was possible for me to become a christian at one point in my life. Because you know, I am a really good person. That is not why I was a christian, I just happen to be a really good person and they are shocked to think I could stoop so low (apparently).

In fact, I was so good, that I believed that it was ok for god (oops, I mean God) to send billions of people to hell for not saying that he was good in the right dialect.

Yes, I accepted that. I also accepted all of the other creeds, even though they made me uncomfortable and would eventually drive me away from the faith.

Like, let's see. Slavery, burning witches, stoning homosexuals, silencing women (that one is ok right?).  So the list goes on. The bible is a sadistic book. Christianity is institutionalized Stockholm Syndrome.

Christianity holds you captive and makes you believe that that is what you want. Nobody wants to live in fear that they will be tortured for eternity if they are bad. But, when you feel that the world is against you and all you have is the love of the creator of the universe, well, there you go.

So I felt pretty alienated from the world at one point, its pretty easy to do, just pay attention to how crazy everyone is and you might start feeling a little uncomfortable. The bible does say some good things too, like, love your neighbor. Basically, the only good thing the bible says is to love people. And it seems like that is all it would need to say.

That's when things get tricky though.

The word love means different things to different people. Add to that the fact that at many different times the god of the bible ordered his people to commit genocide, rape, and mass theft, all in the name of love, then, well, the word becomes harder to define.

Even Jesus said that he, "did not come to bring peace, but a sword." He said he came to break up families and friendships. This too in the name of love.

Back to Christianity holding you captive.

Christianity is a tricky one. It relies heavily on Platonic thought. Much like our current culture. That is why it has so easily been manipulated to fit our current state of thinking. Of course most of it is ancient and without genuine relevance, but, if you haven't thought about why you think the way you do, it can make a lot of sense.

Most people rely on heuristics when it comes to the important choices in their lives. That is why most of us work at jobs we don't like and accept a government and world that we would never be happy with. We just don't think critically.

When we are faced with hard times and difficult choices, we typically are not prepared to do so. For many Americans (including myself at one time) the idea of god just makes sense. What we don't realize is that it is not the idea of god that makes sense, the idea of god has simply been ingrained in our subconscious. So when we talk about common sense, what we are really saying is that something feels right.

Common sense is a cultural standard, not a source of understanding based on objective truth. We form feelings to codify a concept. Think about the word love for a minute, you will notice that there are emotions attached to it. Now think about the word traffic, also, emotions. Basically any concept that you can think of will come with an emotion or set of emotions.

Most christians just "know" that there is a god. What they don't realize is that that "knowledge" can be more accurately defined as cultural indoctrination based on hardwired emotions. When I was younger I had been indoctrinated into the belief that there is a god. I was also indoctrinated by our culture (secular or religious) to believe that there are good and bad people, that there is an objective standard for right and wrong and that good and evil are not only concepts, but in the Platonic sense, forms. That is, entities that exist outside the realm of thought.

As a culture, whether we are secular or religious, we think very much the same. We look down on the mentally ill, the criminals, and the unintelligent. Why would an enlightened culture do so? Ummm, because we're not really enlightened. Our cell phone might be, our political party might appear to be, our environmentally friendly car is marketed to be, but we're still living in the dark ages. And no, I did not say the middle ages, because honestly, what the fuck is that supposed to mean?

So we're all christians in a sense. Our justice system is christian, our modes of conduct, personal ethics (if we even have any) ideas of fairness, all stem from an ancient method of rationalization.

Ironically, the apostle Paul wrote, "the man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought."

Sounds like he was borrowing a little from the sophists. If I were to have a favorite bible verse, that would be the one. It's like George Carlin said, (I paraphrase) if people would shut the fuck up, we wouldn't have as many problems.

If modern christianity could have offered us something that could have been a positive contribution, it would have been that one fact that Paul pulled out of his, ummm, ancient philosophical training. We don't know shit.

What do we know then? We know that we get hungry. We know that we like to feel good. We know that pain hurts. Those are things that we know. After that, we simply use our imagination.

We make things up to make us feel like the impulses that we have are, ok.

It's a lot of trouble to try and figure out why we do the things we do, especially if all we really want is some money, a nice house, some friends who care about us and SEX .

Why would you ever feel compelled to figure things out anyway? What's the point in understanding the world if you're happy?

So, in answer to my friends question, I think at it's heart is that I am not happy. I became a christian because I wasn't happy. I stopped being a christian because I wasn't happy, and I think about how fucked up we are because I am not happy.

Now, that is not to say I am entirely unhappy. My wife makes me happy. My friends make me happy. And doing fun things make me happy. It's just that I never thought I had some noble purpose for my actions and I can see causal factors at work in my personality.

So there is my answer to all life's problems, just become unhappy and you will stop being an asshole.

Wait, did I ever say I wasn't an asshole?

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