ne thing religious people cannot stress enough is that they're all about family. Their organizations even have names like Focus on the Family and the American Family Association (branded a hate group out of MS). For the most part I find this to be true so long as everyone's keeping the faith and maintaining the status quo. I can say from my upbringing (aside from corporal punishment and having no say in church attendance) that our Christian family was very tight-knit and we spent a lot of quality time together. It wasn't perfect, but it was far better than a lot of other families I've seen. Now, to clarify, some of these not-so-happy families I've seen are religious as well so it's not as though they have a corner on the market. I'm just speaking to the Christian view that family is important.
As I said, religious families are close-knit and happy so long as everyone's keeping the faith. They don't say, "The family that prays together stays together" for no reason. It's literally true. I found this out myself when I started to upset the status quo of my family and I was made to feel like an outcast. My family's treatment of me was mild compared to what some people endure at the hands of their religious parents, grandparents, and siblings.
hen I was a Christian it seemed like everything I saw pointed to the truth of god's existence. I had the Bible, my parents' word, my Sunday School teachers and preachers, any number of books and pamphlets, and nature itself bolstering my faith. I felt like I had good reason to believe what I did and I didn't even have to look for evidence: everything was evidence!
That is, until I actually started examining my beliefs and my reasons for holding them. What I found was not that the evidence for god was strong, but that I was willing to accept pretty much anything as evidence so long as it adhered to my preconceptions. Those things that didn't conform to my beliefs were simply ignored without any thought at all.
In my news feed on Facebook I will be served a daily dose of Christian affirmations from friends. In this series of posts, which I call "Facebook Affirmations™," I will post and discuss some of these gems. Here's the affirmation for today:
I've been in a number of debates in person and online where emotions flared and the conversation eventually boiled down to a variant of the following:
Why can't you just respect a person's beliefs?
Here's the problem with that: not all beliefs are created equal and not all are worthy of respect. The person saying the above is usually emotionally invested in the beliefs I've questioned and is usually unable to present any rational reason for a person holding those beliefs in the first place. What they're really saying is, "Since I can't defend my untenable beliefs I really wish you would leave them alone so I don't feel like I have to!"
hen you grow up in Christianity, one thing is made very clear to you over and over: you are a horrible sinner and deserve to burn in Hell forever. This sentiment rears its head pretty early on, as soon as you're able to understand and repeat the name "Jesus." The adults begin to prime you for the doctrine of salvation through grace. In order to do this, you must first accept that you are undeserving of anything but the worst punishment imaginable. Just to clarify, this punishment can be presented in a number of ways. My family subscribed to the "lake of unquenchable fire, eternal torment and darkness with weeping and gnashing of teeth" doctrine. Other sects of Christianity view Hell as simply the complete lack of the presence of god. Still others view Hell as obliteration (which, Heaven aside, aligns quite nicely with the atheistic view that once you die you simply cease to exist).