Why I Am Not A Christian

Rosary

As an Irishman I am surrounded by Christianity and Catholicism in particular. My family is Catholic as are my friends, relatives, neighbours and pretty much everyone I come across. In fact, throughout our history being Irish and being Catholic were considered the same. The Church traditionally had a major influence on the country and still exerts control over schools and hospitals. I was raised Catholic, was an altar boy and even used to say a decade of the rosary every night.  So why I am no longer a Christian?

The first and most obvious point is that Christianity doesn’t make any sense. This is a point that most Catholics will admit and try not to think about. How exactly is Communion the same as eating the literal flesh of Jesus and why would you want to do it? Can anyone truly state with a straight face that the Pope is infallible? I think we (fundamentalists aside) can all admit that the Bible is not literally true, the Garden of Eden is not a real place, Noah’s Ark is just a children’s story and people don’t live inside whales. There are many parts of Jesus’ story that seemed a bit strange to say the least. Virgins giving birth, the dead coming back to life, walking on water, all these things that you can go along with so as you don’t think about them, all start to crumble once you examine them with an open mind.

Then there is God himself. Have you ever noticed how strange it is that so many people believe in something they cannot see, hear, touch or detect in anyway shape or form. What if there is just nothing there? If there was a God why would he hide? Why would he deny us any proof but compel us to believe anyway? Why would he not set out clearly what he wants from us instead of letting a wide variety of religions fight it out among themselves? If God really loves us why would he create Hell? How can anyone with a conscience be comfortable with the idea of eternal torture in the fires of Hell? Sure we would all like to believe in Heaven, but what is it actually like? Where is it and how does it work? We all picture it as a place where all our dreams come true and we get everything we ever wanted, but there must be a difference from our fantasies and reality.

The single argument that shook my belief the most was The Problem Of Evil. If there is an all-powerful God who loves us all, why is there so much evil in the world? What sort of God would stand idly by and ignore the pleas of his people in the Holocaust? How can anyone look at the world history of massacre, genocide, rape and cruelty and still claim that God will help us when we need him? What about those who died from natural causes and famines? Why did God not save them? As states by Epicurus, I could only find 3 explanations. Either God is not all-powerful (in which case we are wasting our time asking him to help us) or he does not love us (same as above but only more worrying) or he does not exist. Either way, there is no point in being a Christian.

If there was a God surely he would choose better representatives than the Church? For decades the Catholic Church’s will was law in Ireland and instead of this resulting in God’s paradise, it was the pits of narrow mindedness. We were a petty, sectarian and cold nation. There was no compassion for the poor or love for the downtrodden but rather a rigid and stagnant dogma. Books and ideas that did not agree with the Church were censored, divorce banned and homosexuality made illegal (these are not ancient examples, but rather laws that were not changed until the 1990s). Women who did not conform to the Church’s view were sent to Magdalene Laundries where they were treated horribly and forced to work without pay.

It is the treatment of children that really drove me from the Church. Even if you believe in God, there is no way you can remain a member of the Catholic Church knowing what crimes priests committed. Children were regularly beaten and abused, physically and verbally. God representatives on Earth treated vulnerable children with nothing but vicious cruelty. The abuse and rape of little children was not an isolated case but rather a systematic problem. The hierarchy’s reaction was nothing short of disgraceful as its priority was to cover the abuse up in order to protect its own reputation and to this day has stalled on paying compensation to survivors. What sort of God turns a blind eye to child abuse and is silent when the perpetrators claim to act in his name?

So it was for a mixture of reasons that I grew disillusioned with Christianity. The scandals and general rigid dogma of the Church drove me away from Mass. There was also the fact that Mass in general is incredibly boring where nothing about anything seems to be said. The hypocrisy of a Church filled with gold lecturing the rest of us on the importance of charity or perpetrators of child abuse lecturing us on the morals of sex made me stop listening to the priests. If the Church really cared about the poor it would sell the Vatican and at a stroke help millions. I looked at other religions but they all seemed the same mixture of hypocrisy mixed with superstition. None of them had any answers and instead relied on “faith” (that is to say they preferred if people stopped asking questions and just accepted what they were told.) I gradually realised that my problem was more than just with the Church and that’s how I became an Atheist.

About Guest Contributor

Robert NielsenRobert Nielsen blogs at Robert Nielsen, a blog dedicated to explore issues in economics, politics and religion. Robert was raised a Catholic, but in 2012 he lost the last of his faith and is now an Atheist (See Robert’s Story: How I Became An Atheist). I(Prayson Daniel) am being edified and challenged through reading Robert’s blog. Robert’s blog offers a ground for debating and discussing, in gentleness and respect, ideas and ideologies that are not similar to mine.

Robert’s worth reading articles: 10 Questions For Christians &

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The Problem With Forgiveness

Cross Nails

Probably the core belief of Christianity is the concept of forgiveness. It is the central teaching of Jesus and held aloft as the prime virtue of God himself. However nice a virtue it is in small doses, it is completely impracticable and worse still undesirable even if it was possible. Both the forgiveness Jesus told us to show to one another and the forgiveness God supposedly has for us are fundamentally flawed and rife with problems.

If I was to ask a random person what the most important teaching of Jesus was, they would probably answer the importance of forgiveness. The quotes are well know, “Treat others as you would like them to treat you” (Luke 6:31) and “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well” (Matthew 5:39-40). Now this sounds quite nice but is completely impracticable in life. Imagine if we really did forgive everyone no matter what they did? Imagine if we never judged anyone (Luke 6:37) Imagine a world of love, forgiveness and empty jails? What if we really not only forgave thieves but also gave them the rest of our possessions? What if our response to violent thugs was not to call the police but to turn the other cheek?

The result is obviously too absurd to contemplate. This is a fact that even devout Christians themselves acknowledge and realise that the core teachings of their faith are completely unrealistic and unworkable in real life. Now I would think that would make them question their beliefs, but what do I know, I’m only a heretic myself. You see talk of forgiveness is merely nice sounding empty words, the kind of stuff you put on fridge magnet, not the stuff you base laws and societies on. This means Christianity is at best a nice thought for the day and not something to live you live by. The debate on the role of religion in society should be much easier to resolve once everyone points out the obvious fact that it is impossible to truly base a society on religion.

Second of all there is the forgiveness that God is supposed to have for us. To many this is a comforting thought, as let’s face it; we have all broken the rules at some point in our lives (especially religious rules). So we all are comfortable with the thought of receiving forgiveness, but people don’t think about the fact that this forgiveness is open to everyone. Murderers, rapists, thieves, thugs, liars, cheats etc can all be forgiven and spend eternity in Heaven. The problem is that some people don’t deserve forgiveness. Our newspapers and history books are full of horrendous crimes that many believe deserve eternal punishment. The idea that perpetrators of mass murder (Colonialism was perpetrated by mostly Christian countries, to use one example and to say nothing of genocides in Rwanda and Germany) should receive eternal reward is a thought that would make many practicing Christians sick.

The core problem with forgiveness is that it completely undermines organised religion. You see the main purpose of organised religion is to provide various rules and a moral compass for its members. Rules are at the core of this (the Ten Commandments for example). However, forgiveness makes all the rules null and void. This is because I could break all the rules, be forgiven and enter Heaven just the same as though I had never broken a single one. I could live (what the Church would call) an immoral life of sex, debauchery, sin and cruelty, and so long as I make a deathbed conversion with an appeal for forgiveness, I shall enter Heaven just the same as the Pope. In fact, why bother following any of the rules if trespass will be forgiven?

You see forgiveness completely undermines the rules and therefore the meaning of the Church (I have the Catholic one in mind, but they are all pretty similar). You can live the life of an Atheist free from any rules, moral guidance or respect for God and so long as you change your ways somewhere towards the end of your life, you will be forgiven. Jesus died for your sins, so don’t just sit there living a good life, go wild. After all, you have a blank cheque. You see you can have forgiveness or you can have the Church, but you can’t have both.

About Guest Contributor

Robert NielsenRobert Nielsen blogs at Robert Nielsen, a blog dedicated to explore issues in economics, politics and religion. Robert was raised a Catholic, but in 2012 he lost the last of his faith and is now an Atheist (See Robert’s Story: How I Became An Atheist). I(Prayson Daniel) am being edified and challenged through reading Robert’s blog. Robert’s blog offers a ground for debating and discussing, in gentleness and respect, ideas and ideologies  that are not similar to mine.