I Was Asked By an Evangelical Christian How I Perceived His Religion.

From a Quora post:

I grew up in a Southern Baptist church. I was taught about original sin and that we sin all the time. I was told that the only way for me to make that right with God was to accept Jesus as my lord and savior. If I did, I would go to heaven, otherwise I would go to hell.

Even though on a number of occasions, I prayed for God to come into my life, it never happened. I now believe that one is born with a religious orientation. We do know from moral psychology that political orientation is inborn*, so why not religious orientation?

Since premarital sex and masturbation are both sins, I feel set up to fail. The bar feels artificially high to make sure we are sinners.

I was told that good people who don’t accept Christ go to hell and bad people can accept Christ and go to heaven which seems like an injustice to me.

I love the world’s religions and find things in many of them to be of benefit. I like to share my enthusiasm about these religions with my Christian friends. There was a Christian co-worker that stopped having lunch with me after I brought up Buddhism. Since then, I have been more discrete. It’s sad when someone is so insecure about their religion that they find simple conversation threatening. I couldn’t imagine living life that way.

There is something that seems insular about some forms of Christianity, particularly those who deny science. It seems like the world in divided into the science-denying, Christians and everyone else. The science deniers even have their own “scientists”.

I know some Christians feel that the Bible is unassailable word of God. I am not sure how someone could think that. A Google search will bring up the contradictions. I wonder what kind of psychological gymnastics someone has to do to make it be consistent in their mind. The idea that a religious experience could possibly make me unquestioningly accept the Bible scares the hell out of me, but then again I seemed to be immune when I prayed for God to come into my life.

I have never understood why the entire Bible must be taken as perfect. Why not follow the teachings of Jesus and consider the the story of creation to be a explanation by pre-scientific peoples that has outlived its usefulness? For everything in the Bible to be inerrant creates a tension every time there is evidence that contradicts it. It must be a tough way to live. I get tired just thinking about it.

Bible scholars have shown how there are different versions of the same scriptures and how parts of it were rewritten by competing sects of early Christianity. I know intelligent people who deny secular Bible scholarship in order to maintain their belief that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. They cite Christian Bible scholars. Some go are far as to think there is some kind of secular conspiracy against Christians. This strike me as paranoid.

This inability to accept that secular scholars are just doing their job without bias makes me paranoid about this type of Christian. If they have such a skewed view of the secular world, what are they capable of? I am also suspicious that any scholar that has to put Christian in their job title has an agenda.

There are Christians who are convinced that school prayer is going to solve all of society’s ills. I saw so much hypocrisy growing up in the Christian South that I know this isn’t true. This is a one size fits all approach to religion. They believe Christian prayer is good for everyone, whether they are Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist etc.

One of saddest days I had in the fourth grade is when the Gideons gave New Testaments to every child in my class, including the two Jewish kids. The look on their faces said it all.


*for more on this, see The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion: Jonathan Haidt: 9780307455772: Amazon.com: Books

©2016 Stephen L. Martin

Painting: title unknown by Diego Voci

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