Losing my religion

Despite the corniness of the title that REM song resonates with me. My departure from christianity has been a long and complicated journey. It has involved many steps and stages. Though many slip into, or out of, religion with apparent ease for me it is a topic that has consumed a lot of my time and involved a lot of consideration. I guess I’m not really capable of just hoping it’ll all turn out right in the end and so need to figure out what’s true and what isn’t, what adds up and what doesn’t. At this point I think it’s pretty safe to say that I’m a solidly convinced atheist. The difficulty with that word is that, like saying one is a christian, it means different things to different people.

I use it in what I believe is an accurate form. I mean that I am pretty certain that there is no god. I say “pretty certain” deliberately. Over the years I’ve come to realize that there can be no absolute certainties in life. I am flawed and error prone. Thus while I have a greater or lesser degree of confidence in a variety of beliefs any one of them can be proven to be wrong. To believe otherwise would be to presume inerrance (or perfection) at least in some limited sphere. Thus while I’m pretty certain there is no god, as in all things, I could be wrong.

With that said, and having reached a position on which I am confident, I still find myself pondering questions of religion and morality. Questions such as why so many people are absolutely convinced that there is a god when it’s clear to me there is no good evidence for it. Why they believe that of the thousands of gods in which people believe or have believed theirs is the one true god. Why they believe that without a god there can be no morality.

I’ve been looking for a place to write my thoughts on these topics. Not because I believe I will provide any great insight. I’m no scholar, philosopher, historian or theologian, but because writing about them may help me sort through what I think about them. What has been holding me back from writing is that my family runs the gamut of christian beliefs from all out atheist, through agnostic, liberal christian to fundamentalist evangelical christian. In writing about these things it’s possible that I will anger some branches of my family tree. The more closed-minded may even wish to shield their children from me and these writings.

What particularly may upset is that over the past years I’ve become increasingly sure that religion is not just wrong but harmful. This stems from my experience that misinformation and mistaken beliefs lead to poor decisions and poor outcomes. It is exceedingly rare that a mistaken understanding leads to a positive outcome, especially when compared to that from a correct understanding. Thus I see incorrect understanding of the world around us and how it works due to the beliefs of primitive tribes being applied to the 21st century leading to bad outcomes of all kinds. There are so many examples of this, both past and present, that I’m sure some will come up if I write further.

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