A Debate With A Believer When I Was A Doubter
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05-07-2013, 09:15 PM
A Debate With A Believer When I Was A Doubter
When I was in my early twenties, I went to teach English in China for a year; in part to travel and explore the world, but also as a means to get away from the pressure from family to attend church every Sunday, and just 'breathe.'  That wasn't the cure-all for me, but it was a beginning I think.

Later I came home, reconnected with friends and family (I had a new niece that was born just before I left, so I was anxious to meet her), and quickly fell back into the church routine again (a consequence of having to live with the folks while I looked for work).   I dated and married a girl who I had grown up with, and who had kept in touch with me while I was overseas, all the while going to church, getting involved in things, but still harbouring my doubts.  We started out our relationship and marriage founded in the church and religion, but slowly, over time, we went to church less and less.

As many marriages do these days, ours eventually ended.  It was unexpected for me, so I was in a state of shock, and denial, and religion was the first place I turned to.  I recognized this as indoctrination eventually, and began to really investigate my doubts.  This naturally led to a more in-depth look at the Bible.  This might be the most common thread people have who move away from religion;  actually reading what it is they are supposed to believe, thoroughly.  There are really disturbing things in there, and I encourage anyone reading this who is on the same journey, or someone who may be looking to defend their religion, to read the passages in their holy books about subjects such as slavery, murder, incest, rape, homosexuality, etc.

I had an interesting conversation with someone the other day about the public and catholic school curriculum including the topics of homosexuality, gender identity, and so on.  This person, a christian, with three children in school, was quite upset about this subject matter being taught to their children.  Their argument was that because this subject was in direct conflict with their religion, that the education to promote tolerance violated their freedom of religion.  Further to that, teaching children about these things would lead children into thinking those "lifestyles" were acceptable, and may even adopt them themselves.

I recognize this as a specious argument.  Perhaps there would be children who would learn about this type of subject matter and realize things about themselves because those things exist in themselves, but to say that they learned about homosexuality, and because they learned about it they "decide" they might give it a shot?  There is more evidence today that our biology is the deciding factor of gender identity, and sexual orientation, be it in our genes, or brain chemistry.  The facts we DO know are that homosexuality has existed in humans in recorded history, and also in other species.  It is not uniquely a human trait.

Hatred, intolerance, or discrimination towards a person or group of people because of something as irrelevant as their sexual orientation should be a thing of our past.  Something we talk about in the sense of, "this is how our ancestors used to think; how dreary life must have been for some people, so let us strive to never return to such backward thinking."  Really, how does two strangers (to me) love ever affect me, or anyone else?  It does not.  But as soon as those two people share the same gender it is suddenly on the table for debate, scrutiny, and shame?  What SHOULD concern us, as a society, is if, in any personal relationship, both people (or their dependents) are being treated fairly and lawfully (ex. abuse).  That's it!

Now, this is where the "debate," I'll call it, turned interesting.  So far, it was about homosexuality, but the topic turned to morality in general, and I divulged to this person my problem with obtaining my sense or rules of morality from the Bible.

When asked why not, I told this person about a few of the stories in the Bible about God ordering his "children" to go into neighbouring towns occupied by people who were situated on land that God had promised to his "children," and slaughter them.  Now, this would be bad enough in and of itself, but their orders also included the slaughtering of everything that "breatheth," including women and children.  This is not to say that the killing of men is moral just for the sake of it, or for some imagined crime of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but, that aside, the Bible is painting a picture of God's warriors entering a town they claim is theirs, and killing all of the "trespassers,"  leaving none alive, even the children and infants.

I asked this person to imagine themselves as one of those "warriors."  They have a small infant by the ankle, screaming and terrified, not even comprehending the danger it is in, what is happening, nor does it possess yet the language to plea for its own life.  I asked also that they imagine that they have a sword pressed to the belly of this infant, ready to run it through.  Now, I asked them to take me down the road to where completing this act would ever be considered moral to them.

A tough question, I know.  But one that needed to be asked, and asked of all Christians I would say.  What struck me as deplorable, resonated as sane and justified to this person when they responded, "if I was certain God commanded me to do it, then yes, I would do it."

It is this mentality right here that is, in my opinion, why religion is a danger to humanity.  You may be familiar - if this subject matter interests you as it does me - with the quote, "There are good people and there are bad people. Only religion makes good people do bad things."  This person I was debating is certainly a good person; they are honest, kind, loyal, charitable (things they would attribute as results of their religion, but i would argue they would be good absent religion), but all it took for them to place themselves in a morally repugnant situation was the aspect of their religion (a commandment from their deity).  Shocking behaviour, but surprisingly normal and rational to them.  This is a clear, and present danger.  This is the same mentality that enables a suicide bomber to enter into a crowded area with small children and babies, and still blow themselves and them up, because of the imagined command from their deity (not to mention the promise for reward).  The same  behaviour the person I was debating with would look down upon, and despise, but had failed to see in himself.
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05-07-2013, 10:34 PM
RE: A Debate With A Believer When I Was A Doubter
Excellent first post, welcome to the circus! Big Grin

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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05-07-2013, 10:45 PM
RE: A Debate With A Believer When I Was A Doubter
Excellent post!

Thanks for sharing.
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