The religion I used to preach about relied upon a singular book, the bible. I spent almost nine years as a lay pastor, and only in the last three did I read the bible critically. As I did, more and more contradictions within it created more and more questions. I became ever more curious how that could be, so I researched the history of the bible, and in so doing I found it to be completely unreliable for anything more than kindling. It contradicted itself, its authorship was shrouded in mystery and ongoing debate, its origin at the Council of Nicaea under Charlamagne, and its obvious theft of older regional myths all pointed to an obvious conclusion for me: it was, in short, not the inspired word of God, but a complete and utter fraud.
I left the church and Christianity, annoyed I had not only wasted so much of my young life, but had also led so many others to believe such utter nonsense.
I read philosophy, finding fascination with the Tao Te Ching, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Frankl, and the like. I studied other mythologies, so as to fully grasp the true origins of the bible I once held dear. I studied biology, cosmology, agnosticism, and atheistic thought. And I came to the solid conclusion that there is no deity. Science informed me that “god” is a “god of the gaps”, and those gaps have closed. The people who claim to follow God are a mixed bag. Many are on a spiritual path in their belief; others are dogmatically religious. Whether Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, I’ve encountered those who walk their faith with humility and those whose hubris is stunning.
I admit that my coming out as gay had much to do with my questioning, but not my methodology. As the evidence for there NOT being a god mounted, I simultaneously encountered those who freely expressed their religious disdain for my sexuality, which I did not trumpet, but I am what some might call open and apparent, if not obvious. As I consider how those same religions claim to “change the hearts and minds” of their followers, I can’t help but notice how they also FAIL a good 99% of the time. Christians are especially quick to invoke hell and damnation upon non-believers, gays, and liberated women. It made my decision to leave the church much easier, and that decision came long before I ceased believing in God.
What is the difference between atheism and religion? Religion requires the suspension of critical thought, the ignoring of proven facts, and devotion to a maladroit deity. Atheism, on the other hand, is the born-this-way default position, requiring only curiosity about the world around us, in all its amazing glory — no god or faith required.
And, to be totally frank, the world would be so much better without religion.