Tag Archives: atheist

Religion and The Power to Change

Today my Mother called me. I hesitated to answer the phone because – to be frank – her phone calls annoy me. She always seems a bit whiny and I can never listen to her go on for more than a few minutes. I usually pick up the phone and put up with it – for at least a few minutes – just because she’s my Mom.

A call about my Dad

The call goes something like this:

“Daddy really wants you to call him.” She has referred to him like that since I was a kid. “He’s off drugs and called me crying, he really wants you to call him.” I’m annoyed at this point – like going to church is someone’s free pass to sympathy and forgiveness.  I want actions – not a crutch used to help someone to feel less guilty!

“I know, I know. I’ll think about it.” I tell my mother I will consider calling my Father, but the truth is I won’t. I will not even entertain the idea. The phone works both ways and if God can miraculously get him off the methamphetamine then it can help him use the phone to call his son – this isn’t my job.

I get off the phone with my Mom as quickly as she called.

Change is happening everywhere, it seems

I tell my good friend Holden about what’s happened and he shares a similar story. He describes an experience that occurred just last weekend between he and his Father-in-Law (who he shares years of bad blood with).

Dude, I have a pretty fucking crazy story of a similar nature of my own.

So, I told you my father in law has been going to the church of tongues, being ordained as a minister… etc.

Well, last weekend I go to my wife’s grandmother’s house to get a shovel to do some yard work and her dad is back there with a truck, loading it up with old limbs and stuff.

He’s trying to lift a huge ass limb, so I get a hatchet and help him cut it up, load it up, etc. We just exchange small talk and pleasantries. We’re civil to each other.

Then I ask him if he needs help unloading all that shit at the landfill. He says no but says we need to talk.

He proceeds to apologize for every shit thing he’s ever done to me, thanks me for taking good care of his daughter, applauds my work ethic and getting the MBA even with a kid, preggo wife and full time job. Apologizes about everything, tells me he loves me, hes proud of me…

I return all the same gesture, we shake hands and that was that. He didn’t say anything to anyone, I didn’t say anything to the wife, nothing has been said about it since..

I was floored. WTF. Wow. If the attitude sticks, I will forever be proven wrong about the guy. Amazing.

Religion Allows Change

Can religion really change a man? If so, how?

I think there is no doubt that religion allows for change. Especially for the stubborn or prideful (aren’t we all…). However, I doubt the solution is a malevolent one. I mean I somehow doubt the grace of God or Jesus’ hand touches a man’s soul granting serenity. That’s all hocus-pocus to me – but I’m being cynical.

Rather than the mystic – I think the change religion grants a man is more natural, more obvious, and surly as equally effective. My theory is religion gives a prideful man an opening to change his bad habits without losing face to himself, his friends, and family. It give a guy an out, a second chance, a clean slate – and a chance to feel okay about it!

Maybe Christianity really is about forgiveness – like it says in the bible. Except in reality I don’t think it is God or Jesus who is doing the forgiving – rather it allows you to forgive yourself and allows your family to look beyond your mistakes and forgive you too. That is very positive and very powerful.

Maybe for those of us who aren’t religious we can learn an important lesson about the power to truly forgive our fellow man and ourselves. Almost all major religions teach these same lessons – To lose one’s ego and to forgive – I think they’re on to something.

A Religious Journey: Searching for Faith

I’ve struggled with religion and faith my entire life. My studies began early and continue today. It started before I can remember as my Parents dropped me off at Church. Some of my fondest memories are those in a little Baptist Church as a child. Sunday school, church plays, and of course the plethora of Southern banquets featuring some of the finest dishes Grandmothers from around the county could muster.

Religion and the church community gave to me what everyone desires in life. An absolute truth, the warmth of love and affection, family, the kindness of a stranger smiling at you from a few pews away, and of course belonging. In a word: Comfort.

But from the time I can remember “believing” was always difficult. I would constantly struggle with the nagging feeling religion is make believe. I felt out of place and wondered how everyone else seemed to believe so whole-heartily and so easily while I struggled with my faith constantly.

I didn’t give up. As in life, the things that didn’t come natural to me (faith), I worked twice as hard as the next person to achieve. So I prayed daily for God to help me “believe”.

“Dear God – Please help me with my struggles in faith. Please help me find the evidence I need personally to find strength in my faith in you. I am sorry for my lack of faith and I am working hard to  find it.  Please put me on the right path.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

So my days would go from about the ages of 12 – 18. There were even times I believed strongly that God was there. Sometimes my hard work seemed to be paying off – though my doubts were never far behind.

Search for Faith

When I first arrived in college I decided to get serious about religion. I started watching videos that I hoped would strengthen my faith. I met a “preacher” who taught young people. And so intense self-indoctrination began – seemed to work – but eventually failed.

At one point I was ready to testify to my fellow college students on campus. I had almost convinced myself it all made sense. I painted an almost clear picture of what I had come to believe. But what I found mostly radicalized me and I saw in myself the symptoms of any individual induced to delirium.

Most of what I found I could not reconcile with my own personal thoughts and feelings.  Everything seemed overly radical, lacked evidence, and seemed almost loony. Though I learned many good lessons – those lessons were not independent to Christianity and proved nothing.

There were young earth creationist, those that claimed religion was about faith and not proof, those that claimed man and dinosaurs roamed the Earth together, and worse. Even those whom I admired failed in their efforts to provide reasonable evidence.

So, as a college student I decided to seek knowledge the best way I knew how. I enrolled in a few religion classes and finally I found what I was looking for, but not what I expected to find.

The scholarly approach to Religion was exactly what my personality craved. I learned about the history of the Bible, I found evidence of scholarly research, and was surrounded by people seeking the same information I desired. I had Christian Professors, Professors of different faiths and belief systems, and Professors with no beliefs at all.  I was truly left to gather the evidence and for the first time decide for myself rather than be told what I should believe by a Spiritual/Intellectual leader.

My Decision in Faith

I have become comfortably Agnostic. I’m an Agnostic because after years of searching for the information to strengthen my faith in Christianity, after giving it all I have to feel the right emotions, and after an entire youth spent in the indoctrination process of religion – it all failed.  I still came out hopelessly unable to believe.

I’m an Agnostic because I am a Scientist of sorts. Not a Rocket Scientist, of course, but a Scientist in logic and methodology. I am open to new evidence, new ways of thinking, and new interpretations. For or against religious belief.  Thus far all evidence points toward the non-existence of a God – especially the one described in Abrahamic religions.

I’m an Agnostic because for the first time in my life I feel like I am not lying to myself. I’m not struggling to force myself to feel a certain way or to believe a certain idea because that’s what I’ve been taught is right.  I think that’s something I can live with.

* I have written in length on religious topics on this blog.  You can check them out here.