I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I was raised with a belief in God, Jesus and the Bible. Like most children indoctrinated, I’d never really questioned my belief in God. This was to change in 2003 when I started to attend church regularly and really read the Bible. As a result of my autism I tend to put a lot of effort into any new project so I bought a study guide and started from the beginning.
I was heavily influenced by the Left Behind book series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins which is a narrative about the Rapture and the subsequent tribulation. The authors were fundamentalists Christians and believed that the entire Bible is divinely inspired and should be taken literally where possible.
I attended a United Reformed church which was a very traditional British church. They didn’t seem to go too deeply into the theology. I really liked the vicar and he seemed very knowledgeable. However when I asked him a difficult question he would just deflect it on to a different subject.
The more I read of the Bible the more horrified I became e.g. the condoning of slavery, genocide, the treatment of women. Everyone I spoke to about it gave the excuse that it was in the Old Testament and that Jesus created a new covenant. However in the New Testament Jesus said:
“Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets; I came not to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished” (Matthew. 5:17-18).
The main reason I became disillusioned with the church is the fact that they ‘cherry picked’ the parts of the Bible they liked and ignored the problem passages. I also felt that if some of the Bible was allegory what was to stop it all being untrue? Suddenly I realised that deep down I didn’t believe in any of it. After months of struggling to understand my faith, it was gone and it was so liberating.
Since becoming an atheist I have done a lot of research into the origins of the Bible; especially the New Testament. There are a lot of manuscripts that didn’t make the canon that make for interesting reading. Bart Ehrman, who lectures at the University of North Carolina is a renowned New Testament scholar. I have learned so much from listening to his lectures and reading his blog. I can see now that the New Testament is far from historically accurate. The original events were passed on orally and embellished by the authors of the gospels and epistles according to their own theology. I now believe that although Jesus existed, he wasn’t born of a virgin and didn’t claim to be divine and didn’t rise from the dead. Jesus was an apocalyptic Jew who believed that the kingdom of God was imminent and travelled around preaching on how the Jews should prepare for this.
I am now part of an online community that is striving for logic and reason in society. Now that I don’t believe in an afterlife I’m trying to make a difference in the here and now because that’s all there is. When a theist asks me what the point of life is if there is no God, I reply ‘Why does there have to be a point?’. I know that I’m an insignificant human who won’t be remembered in a couple of hundred years but that’s ok. What I teach my children is passed on to their children and so on, so a little of me survives into the future and that’s enough for me.