Photo Credit: transpacificproject.com
When tradition is the source of income
One of the most rewarding things about becoming a free thinker, and an atheist from that, has been the ability to abandon archaic teachings that simply do not line up with scientific evidence. I can remember as a believer in every word of scripture being truth, that I would hold great disdain for publications such as National Geographic, and I would get a lump in my throat when I would hear about one of my nieces or nephews learning about science, and praying that they would be able to see through the fallacies of modern science (man how indoctrinated I was). I was literally scared of instruction that would have the audacity to suggest that this earth could be millions of years old. I was not fundamental enough to demand it was only in the thousands of years old column, but millions just did not line up with my inspired, word of god bible. Yet, as I decided to start looking objectively at the facts, my eyes started to open to reality. My thought going into this journey was that surely there was nothing that I could find in the facts that would cause the tenets of my faith to be called into question. Fortunately, I was able to use the scientific evidence provided through numerous resources to sincerely question what I was believing, and preaching. So, how does someone like myself come from a ultra-conservative, fundamental mind to believing wholeheartedly in the reality of scientific evidence? Dropping the labels is the best answer I can give. Not allowing myself to come at the evidence with a determined presupposition that god still has to turn out to be real, no matter what the evidence shows. So, why can other people who have looked at the evidence not come to the same conclusion? My personal opinion is that they are not willing to drop the label.
I am often asked from atheist, how I could possibly have stayed in the Christian religion until I was 30, before proclaiming my belief in science over the bible? The most simple answer is I was having an issue with dropping my label. My entire life, and circle revolved around the Christian god being real, and his message was even one that I was preaching publicly. I preached the Christian bible all over the lower 48, here in the United States, and then I preached in England, Germany, Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates. When people talk about a belief system being the core of their character, I was someone who could claim that wholeheartedly. The concept of Jesus Christ being the savior of the entire world was everything I was about. In High School I was the founder and leader of a prayer group that met weekly, at Church as a teenager I was the “Salem Youth Association” President (two-term, that was impressive apparently). Then at only 15 I was preaching behind pulpits all over East Texas. I preached in front of crowds as small as 10 to as large as 500. I am good at public speaking as well. It is a skill that I honed over years of preaching, but I think it also came naturally (my mother is a great speaker). The greatest compliment I ever received was when I preached in a Methodist church in England, by an elderly man in his late 70s, who told me that I was the greatest preacher he had heard since Billy Graham, and that he saw him preach in person. It was attached to everything I was about, and it fit me well. I was a Pavements and Construction Equipment Journeyman in the Air Force by trade, and I was known as the “Preacha’ man” by all of my colleagues. I was asked to perform the wedding ceremony for a few of my colleagues, and I even led several to choosing the Christian religion for themselves while I was in the military. Everywhere I went I was preceded by a reputation as the Preacher. My entire family (and I have a big family) knew me as the strong Christian, and Preacher. People would clean up their language when I would come in the room (sure some would make their language worse intentionally), and often the conversation would turn to religion if they knew who I was. All of our friends were strong Christians, and church-goers. Every fiber of our life was centered around Jesus.
I believe this is why many have such a hard time examining, and then publicly accepting the facts presented. This is, for many, their livelihood. Many that I know in the Christian circle are Pastors, or at least going to school to be Pastors. They have invested every bit of their life into the presupposed notion that the Christian god is the real god, and that Jesus is the way to heaven. To go from that, to accepting that their is no god (at a minimum any of the gods man has imagined), no heaven, no hell, no soul, Jesus did not resurrect from the grave, the earth is millions of years old, we evolved, and were not created would be a huge jump. Quite frankly, it is a jump of social suicide for most individuals.
What does the bible say?
Anyone who grew up in the south in the USA most likely heard at one point or another about the creation story of the bible. You know, the one where a god created light, before he created the sun. Basically, in a nutshell, the bible declares that the earth was created in six days, and in this span of time he also created one man and one woman directly (Gen. 1-3). Through these details, biblical literalist claim that the earth is a mere 6,000 years old (approximately), and that every bit of this creation story is the truth. They are well aware that science says otherwise, but they have made it clear that they believe the bible is not only the final authority on every topic of life, but that it is the only authority. Science is from the devil, specifically science that disagrees with the bible. Now there are some commentators, and somewhat reasonable scientist who reject the creation story in the bible, stating that clearly (duh) science shows that the earth is many millions of years old, and that we have evolved over these millions of years. Why do I say that these scientist are somewhat reasonable? Because, the scientist I am referring to continue to maintain that the god of the bible is still real, and that he still created all that we see, just not in the way that is described in the bible. These individuals teach that large parts of the bible (they probably would not prefer me to put it that way) are metaphors, the Genesis story of creation being one of them (you don’t say). A lot of them also claim the stories of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3), Jonah and the whale, the talking donkey in Numbers 22:28 (how crazy is that!?), and other miraculous events, except for the resurrection, seeing as how that one is kind of necessary to the whole concept of Christianity. I mean, after all, if the resurrection did not happen, then no automatic salvation from a prayer, or baptism, or works, or spiritual gifts (whichever is the way of salvation?? see The Author of Confusion, Part 1; Salvation: Baptism, and Author of Confusion, Part 1c; Salvation, Evidence Of (spiritual gifts, works, etc.) for more). If no resurrection, then we would have to go back to sacrificing our most precious items in our life. That would be weird in the 21st century!? Can you imagine seeing someone on the side of the road burning an iPhone, or a big screen TV to sacrifice for the gods?! It would be hilarious, but what would we do, seeing as how not very many families have livestock anymore. I guess the farmers could be our priest? They could take their livestock to be burned for us. We would pay them, and then they would take a cow to the altar for us. OK, I will admit, I chased that rabbit trail a little more then I wanted to. It was kind of fun though.
But science cannot have any answers about our origin, can they?
The most exciting thing that I am finding out about as an atheist, is the actual way in which we came into being who we are today. Finding out our past is so helpful in understanding our present being, and who we can be. Dropping all of the nonsense of religion is one of the most freeing things you can do, especially in the field of science. When you have the burdens of the bible to carry through scientific research it not only limits your research, but even blinds your ability to look at the facts objectively. Heck, even the term scientific theory and facts is debated amongst creationist. Scientist who are not restricted by religion certainly have debates, but it is based on science, not some personal opinion about a superficial god in the sky.
Without giving a lesson on biology, yes science does not only have theories (in the way Christians try and paint it), but facts about the origins of our species, and our world. Please read a scientific book if you want to understand this more (not the bible), it would be too lengthy to explain in a blog post. The basics of the facts are that Homo sapiens appeared some 200,000 years ago in East Africa after millions of years of evolution. Prior to Homo sapiens, we had Homo neanderthalensis (Neanderthals), Homo erectus (upright man), Homo habilis (handyman), and the Australopithecines (AKA “southern ape-men). Source: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/09/human-evolution-101/
Science offers clear evidences of our earth being somewhere around 4.5 billion years old (Source: https://geomaps.wr.usgs.gov/parks/gtime/ageofearth.html). The only reason you have to deny this, is because the bible says it cannot be anywhere near that old. While that is a tough conundrum, most would then let go of the original theory of creation, or at least the account in the bible and move on with their lives. However, for people who are deeply invested in the idea of the bible being the very words of god, they simply cannot afford to lose the credibility of the bible. Many will try and twist scripture to make it say something different, to which I simply ask why god left it that way.
Why god is the author of confusion
I have read from many authors, and scientist who maintain a belief in Christianity, about Genesis being a metaphor. I simply ask why would a great and powerful god do that? Why so many metaphors? Why talk in code? I would have been a lot more impressed with the god of Abraham if he would have put in Genesis, “In the beginning, 4.5 billion years ago, God created the heavens and the earth, including all of the organisms on the earth, and over the course of billions of years God orchestrated an evolutionary process to complete humankind”. You could even still have original sin. Maybe “Lucy” could have committed the original sin (I know how much Christian prefers women to be the ones screwing everything up). It makes absolutely no sense that god would have instead stated it took him six days, put in another verse that a day to god is one thousand years to us (even that doesn’t make sense with science). Why did he not just say the truth. We would all be saying “holy shit” right now in amazement as the god of Abraham would continue to be proven right, and truthful.
I would still not worship the egotistical, genocidal, jealous, childish god that he is, but I would certainly believe he is real. It is just a thought of course, I could be absolutely wrong on the whole damn thing. After all, I am not the scientist, I am simply the reader of science. So, maybe scientist are all from the devil, just like musical instruments and women. However, I am kind of thinking that there is not much motive for a scientist to be from the devil. I know the bible describes hell as a place of “weeping”, but I would think that heaven, considering how empty it is apparently is going to be (Matt. 7:14), will be the place of weeping. The main question I get at this point is based on morality, a question of how we know what is right and wrong. I would literally have to write another blog on that topic, which is what I will do. So keep reading, maybe even subscribe!
The godless Pastor,
Billy J. Crocker