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A Profession of Faith (Part 2)

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In my 2005 column, A Profession of Faith I mused on my beliefs on religion and spirituality.

I do believe in a higher power. A “Great Architect”, if you will. This higher power is beyond our level of understanding. We can only hope to understand him by looking at what He created.

What He created was the world by setting rules and laws and allowed things to develop accordingly. When I sit outside on a starry night and look at the heavens, or see how everything in this world works so perectly, or how animals are born, or snow falls, I definitely see a higher consciousness.

I believe in creation and evolution. Why can’t you have both? Why couldn’t God have created a world where the rules of existence included animals and plants evolving into what they are today? Why couldn’t we have evolved from an early primate if that is what God wanted?

stars amazingspacepistures.infoThat article came from a very Deist mindset. Deism is, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “is the belief that reason and observation of the natural world are sufficient to determine the existence of God, accompanied with the rejection of revelation and authority as a source of religious knowledge”.

Nearly eight years later I acknowledge the beliefs I held when I wrote that column were not the end of my journey away from faith, but merely a stopping point on the road toward accepting reason and rejecting religion and belief altogether.

Seth Andrews, who runs the website The Thinking Atheist, wrote in his 2012 book, Deconverted that his journey was much the same. It began with questioning, slowly waking up to reason, and then totally deconverting entirely.

An analogy I would use would be it is like waking from a deep sleep. You do not wake fully aware and alert; it is a process that light slowly begins to fill your world, followed by increased awareness of your surroundings. When you first wake up you are still connected to your sleep. You may still recall your dream and still have the emotions and thoughts that accompanied it. As you awaken you become more aware of your true surroundings and slowly you begin to live in the world of the awake.

That is very much how it happened to me. I was once very religious, but I slowly began to throw off the shroud of belief that had been with me for many years. But as with a vivid dream or any long held belief it did not go away all at once. It began with the premise that the religious and, especially the fundamentalist view of the Bible, could not be true. Logic and reason assured me that much. Religion and belief was still a comforting thought. I couldn’t throw it off entirely, so I tried to live in both worlds. I believed in God, but just not the god of the Bible. I read The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine, and adhered to the belief of rejecting revelation (ie. the Bible) but believed that you can view God through reason and logic.

That book did change my life, but I did not stop at those beliefs. I took it further, continued to question. Through this questioning and also by connecting to websites like The Thinking Atheist, The Friendly Atheist, and others I began to see that I was not only not alone in my beliefs, but also not alone in my journey to them. Countless people have taken the road I have to my beliefs.

I do not believe in God. I do not believe in any afterlife. This is it. Because of that I want to make every sunrise, every minute worth it. Why should I pine away for an afterlife when I have a wonderful life, wonderful wife, children, friends, and things to enjoy in this life? Because of that, I also want to make suffering for people in this life as minimal as possible. I will not simply pray for an end to famine, war, suffering, and other horrible things. Religion implies that they will be rewarded with paradise in the afterlife. Why not just try to make their life wonderful now?

I believe that you can have morality without religion. The natural state of any living being is to be alive. We all have free will and strive to be fed, clothed, housed, loved, reproduce, and also strive to improve ourselves. Anything that infringes on those things is wrong, and that is where morality comes from.

I want to be tolerant of other people’s beliefs as long as their beliefs do not infringe upon mine. You should be free to pray, or not pray, to tithe, or not tithe, and to serve your fellow Man as you best see fit without any harassment by me or anyone else.

These are my beliefs in a nutshell, and a brief explanation of my journey there. Is it the end of the road? I don’t know. I don’t think so, I think I will continually change my beliefs and viewpoints as new evidence is shown to me. I will learn from others and strive to teach others.

Photo credit: amazingspacepictures.info

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About Tom Bux

  • Joseph O Polanco

    All healthy human beings are born with an innate moral sense, a conscience. This is why since time immemorial, even the most primitive cultures, irrespective of their metaphysical beliefs, enforced laws against murder and other acts of evil.

    However, much like our language skills, our conscience needs to be refined, calibrated, made more robust. If not, it becomes stunted, or worst, perverted such that evil actions are perceived to be good and good ones viewed as evil. Like a compass disoriented by a magnet, a poorly trained or corrupted conscience will strand its owner or lead him straight into the swarthy abyss of depravity and abandon.

    A clear example of this can be seen with child soldiers. These are demonstrably more violent and vicious than their elder counterparts. “More than 300,000 children—some as young as 7—are fighting as soldiers in 41 countries around the world,” said an Associated Press dispatch. Most are between the ages of 15 and 18. “Besides being used as front-line fighters, children are used to detect land mines and also as spies, porters and sex slaves, according to the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers.” Drugs are often administered to make children fearless. Those who refuse drugs are killed, said a 14-year-old rebel soldier in Sierra Leone. Regarding his fighting in 1999 when he was 15, a North African youth reported: “They put all the 15- and 16-year-olds in the front line while the army retreated. I was with 40 other kids. I was fighting for 24 hours. When I saw that only three of my friends were alive, I ran back.” The Coalition’s report stated that governments recruit children because of “their very qualities as children—they can be cheap, expendable and easier to condition into fearless killing and unthinking obedience.”

    And so we arrive at the crux of our discussion. As we’ve seen whether or not a person has a conscience isn’t really the issue. It’s whether or not a person has a reliable conscience and whether or not he/she obeys it.

    This dilemma calls to mind an old Cherokee legend. It goes something like this:

    “An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

    “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

    The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

    The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.””

    With that in mind, consider what another equally wise and ancient passage tells us.

    “This is what Jehovah has said [] “I, Jehovah, am your God [Creator], the One teaching you to benefit [yourself], the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk. O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments. Then your peace would become just like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” – Isaiah 48:17,18 (Brackets mine.)

    As any loving parent would, our Creator, Jehovah God, is keenly interested in our well-being and, to that end, instructs us on how to maintain and properly use the conscience he created us with.

    To close, here’s a remarkable demonstration of this instruction at work as recorded in a leading international journal:

    “In Liberia, Alex served as an altar boy in the Catholic Church. But at the age of 13, he joined a warring faction and became a notorious child soldier. To make himself brave in battle, he turned to witchcraft. Alex saw many of his companions killed, but he survived. In 1997 he met Jehovah’s Witnesses and found that they did not look down on him. Rather, they helped him to learn what the Bible says about violence. Alex left the army. As his faith began to grow, he followed the Bible command: “Let him turn away from what is bad and do what is good; let him seek peace and pursue it.”—1 Peter 3:11.

    Meanwhile, a former child soldier named Samson came through the town where Alex now lived. He had been a choirboy but in 1993 became a soldier and got involved in drug abuse, spiritism, and immorality. In 1997 he was demobilized. Samson was heading for Monrovia to join a special security force when a friend persuaded him to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and as a result, he developed a Bible-based faith. This gave him the courage to abandon his warlike ways. Both Alex and Samson now live peaceful and moral lives. Could anything but Bible-based faith make changes in lives that had been so brutalized?” – http://bit.ly/18WopZ0

    Is it apparent to you now why we all need to read and apply what the Bible teaches? 🙂