This will normally appear on Thursday; that is Thor’s Day but this opening week of The Grey Wayfarer it will be Friday; that is Freya’s Day. Odin’s Eye, as a post, is about faith, religion, theology and spirituality. Mostly is all of those things as they stand in my life and how I relate to these things. My struggles with religion and faith are pretty much a constant. For most of my life I have struggled with them. My faith as a Christian literally has teetered on the brink several times in my life and only recently have I decided to be truly honest about it and walk away from the religion known as Christianity. For the last few months I have been what I truly am, which is a Deist, a Humanist and a Pagan. More on all three of these as Odin’s Eye continues in the weeks ahead, but for now know that I am no longer a Christian and it has very little to do with recent events.
My Walking Away From Christianity
I want to change people’s perception here about what happened about my faith, because I have been accused of walking away from Christianity because of what Christians have done toward me recently and my observations of Christians. Well, I would be the first to say that has something to do with it, but it was not where the struggle began and one should not look at the followers of a religion to assess whether or not a religion is true. The truth of a religion should be tested in its claims and whether or not such claims can be rationally verified. Experience is no good here because I can tell you every religion has people experience something that ‘verifies’ the religion to the one who had the experience. History is no test either. History will show you that religions all make historical claims but are they verified by outside sources and multiple witnesses? Also, just because something is historical, does not mean that it automatically reveals who God, the gods or the divine reality truly is. Nope we are left with one tool to assess truth and that is reason. There are few things that sets humanity above the rest of the animal kingdom and one of those is the use of reason to assess truth.
I have spent a long time as a Christian trying to mesh its claims with rational investigation and I now can say that some of the claims of Christianity have no rational proof for their claims of truth. Because of this, you take a lot in Christianity hoping it is true, but not really knowing if it is true. Over time through various studies I developed four major objections to the theology of Christianity, for which I could not rationally come to good conclusions. It was these that caused me to walk away from faith, nothing more and nothing less.
Now recent events where Christians have acted toward me in very non-Christian manners may have caused me to walk away faster, but in truth I was already showing my backside to the Christian faith long before then. Not trying to be insulting there, just facing facts. My leaving the faith is my own decision and I am blaming no one for it. There really isn’t ‘blame’ here; just a decision to be honest where I stood. I don’t perceive of my walking away from Christianity as a tragedy from my point of view, although I am sure many Christians would see it as such. To me, I simply became more honest and truly myself. I stopped hiding my failures behind notions of sinfulness and started facing them honestly as a man should face them in this world. I didn’t change, so much as I found my true self. I am a rational human being and there are four things that I cannot reconcile with being rational human being and being a Christian.
My Four Theological Objections:
- The Bible cannot be rationally verified to be God inspired. The Bible makes a claim to be inspired but it never proves it and there is no empirical proof that the Bible is any different from any other book in the world. If you believe the Bible is divinely inspired, you have no evidence for it, you just believe it to be true.
- Sin is a completely man-made made up concept. There is nothing in the world that tells you are a sinner. Some preacher came along and told you that you were a sinner and then offered you a cure. But let’s be honest there is no person alive who hasn’t done something they regret or was ‘bad’, so any snake oil salesman can play into that and say you are a sinner and then sell you the cure. They really don’t prove sin as a concept really exists or that it is the problem you actually have. They just reinforce your assumptions. They don’t prove those assumptions are true, they just play on them.
- God’s answer to sin is to torture his only son and kill him, this is an answer that doesn’t make a bit of rational sense as God could easily just forgive us without all this. Either the God of the Bible is a sadistic fuck or not too smart if this is the best he could come up with to solve the ‘sin problem’. There is the additional problem of how much of a sacrifice and torture is it, if you know with certainty that you are going to be healed from all injuries and rise from the dead in the end?
- The Bible presents God’s justice as a little suspect, especially when you consider the doctrine of Hell. I mean you get all eternity roasting in a fire because you did a few bad things. I mean we might understand with people like Stalin and Hitler, but grandma who never hurt a fly but never accepted the gospel of Christ because she didn’t buy it, gets the same punishment as them? Even the Bible’s own standard of justice makes this suspect – ‘eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ I mean making God mad is such a high crime that I must spend eternity in hell for it? How is that the punishment fitting the crime? Yeah, I could go all day. If you don’t consider this a problem, you never have really considered the doctrine of Hell or it’s implications for those you love that have not accepted the gospel.
I spent many years trying to reconcile these things and couldn’t. Now either this speaks to my lack of ability to do so, or they are just not reconcilable because the whole thing is made up by humans for whatever reasons. I am not saying I am infallible but I have asked my questions of some of the smartest people in Christianity I know and you know what their answer is? The same as I can get from any preacher – ‘you just have to take some things on faith.’ Yeah, so you’re saying faith is a cop-out to any question too hard for you to answer? Sorry, that is no longer acceptable to me. If Christianity is genuine and true, it should be able to answer my questions. That is something I have maintained since I was twelve.
Yeah, there is personal stuff too. But that isn’t my main reasons – they are listed above. So where I stand each week will be reflected on in Odin’s Eye. It was not however all the personal stuff that cause this ‘crisis’ of faith. Rather the personal stuff was probably caused by my struggles in finding and accepting the truth about myself and where I really was because of these four things. Uncertainty breeds uncertainty and in that uncertainty shit happens.
I believe in something out there. I am a deist, not an atheist. I think atheism and deism actually can get along because we’re both saying ‘ we can’t really know’. The difference is, I think it’s just as bold a claim to say ‘there is no God’ as there is to say ‘there is one and we have him (or her) all figured out and here is our religion for you’. Sorry mankind is a little too ignorant to make such universal claims either way.
Yeah, it’s all man’s attempt to understand God. But like all things man does, it is prone to mistakes and error. Can you find truth in religion? Yep, but I don’t think any of them are The Truth or give us THE Truth. For that we need to turn to reason as our way of finding the truth.
If we are going to understand God, I think revealed religion is more of a problem than a cure. We have to conclude that if we are going to understand the Creator, we are going to have to look at his creation including mankind to figure him out. Not the specifics of what certain men have written that says He, She or They are a certain way. The Creator gave us reason, not religion. Perhaps we should use it.
I still meditate on these things and think about them. I just haven’t made a lot of ‘progress’ by not writing about them. Time to change that by doing so each week in Odin’s Eye.
The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.