One of the most insidious aspects of religion -and I speak here of Christianity in particular- is that we are all labelled as helpless sinners who need to be reconciled with God. The ever popular hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ contains the line ‘Amazing Grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me’. The fact that Christians see themselves as wretches really bothers me. There is nothing more pure than a newborn baby. At birth a baby has the potential to do wonderful things for humankind and to label them as a ‘wretch’ is so wrong.
I have been told that some people aren’t as strong as I am and ‘need a crutch’ to live. I don’t consider myself to be a strong person. I have crumbled many times under stress and even had a total breakdown in 2003; there is nothing special about me. I understand that a lot of people derive solace and comfort in their faith and I don’t have the right to take this away from them. However this perceived need for comfort comes from the religion itself. Matt Dillahunty (a host on ‘The Atheist Experience’) has often said that ‘religion breaks your legs so it can give you a crutch’. If people didn’t rely on a God to sort their life out they would realise that the only person who can change their situation is them.
When my Dad was terminally ill with cancer I didn’t spend my time praying to God for healing, I spent my time doing everything I could to make his last months meaningful. I spent time with him, told him that I loved him. I’m not to going lie to you, it was a bloody hard time but when he died I knew I had done my utmost for him.
Twelve step programs help people who have addictions but one of these steps is often acknowledging that you ‘come to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity’ (taken from Alcoholics Anonymous). I think the first step to recovery in any situation should be acknowledging that we are totally responsible for our own actions and consequently it is up to us and us alone to get ourselves out of our current situations.
Earlier this year 12 boys in Thailand got stuck in cave with rising water. The whole world banded together for the rescue. One diver lost their life in the rescue and was heralded, quite rightly, as a hero. Over a period of days all the boys were rescued. Social media was full of people praising God for their safety. This made me really angry, everyone of those rescuers risked their lives for those children and people were giving God the credit. It is the same when people come through difficult surgeries; the surgeon is often not given his dues.
I have achieved a lot this year. I have lost a substantial amount of weight, got my body moving again after a decade of illness and totally changed my thought processes. I’ve only managed to do this through sheer hard work and I am unashamedly proud of myself. This has had a knock on effect on my whole life; everyone around me has benefited from the ‘new me’.
Imagine what humankind could achieve if we all took credit for are own actions!