Living a fulfilled life without God
I wanted to take a moment to share some thoughts and feelings that I have for the friends and family that remain in my life. The last 18 months has arguably been the most socially challenging time of my life as everyone watched a public departure from faith of a former bible school student, youth group leader, and worship leader. I understand how hard this was for some of my loved ones to watch and know that some relationships will just never be the same… mostly just due to us losing what we had in common. Other than the few relationships that just don’t really exist any longer, some of the ones that remain have been left with an unspoken awkwardness.
I’ve always been passionate about things in life and can’t seem to shake that part of my personality. I think my passion and outspokenness is often misunderstood to the point that people think they can’t talk to me about it. As long as the dialogue is halfway intelligent and respectful, I actually enjoy talking about it. One friend in particular who I consider to be a better friend than he probably realizes is a man of faith and has been with me through this whole change. We continue to be able to have respectful dialogue even on areas we disagree (Thanks, Scott). I really don’t mind discussing the topic and don’t want people to think they have to avoid it around me. However, messages to warn me of hell fire or to make sure I know that I’m being prayed for are not appropriate and do irritate me.
I know my opinions on religion and faith represent a minority view. It probably doesn’t help that my opinions are somewhat strong in this area, as well. The intention behind my outspokenness is to induce thinking. I’m not out to convert everyone to atheism. It would be unrealistic for me to think everyone will just leave their faith. My aim is mainly just to discourage certainty. I see religious certainty as harmful to society in ways that you’re bound to hear about if you read my writing, follow my Facebook page, or my Twitter account. This is where my outspokenness comes from. I think religion is due some criticism that even religious people should consider.
With all of that said, while I expect many people to disagree, I really don’t set out to be offensive or hurt anyone. Most of my criticism is aimed at institutions or ideologies. I save individual criticism for people like Pat Robertson or Fred Phelps. I was listening to a talk given by Sam Harris on this morning’s commute and he said something that inspired me to write this. I think what he said in preparation for his talk sums up what I would like for my friends and family to hear. I’ll close with his quote.
Thank you to those of you who haven’t written me off despite our differences. I’m sorry that many of us have vast differences in thought, but I’m glad that we can still be friends.
“I often begin any talk on this subject with an apology because I think I am going to say some very derogatory things about religion and given that we live in a country where 90 percent of people believe in a Biblical God, I think I am destined to offend some of you here. I want to assure you that’s not the point. That’s not the point of my being here, that’s not the point of writing my books. I am not being deliberately provocative. I am simply extremely worried about the role that religion is playing in our world. I think religion is the most divisive and dangerous ideology that we have ever produced. And what’s more is the only ideology that is systematically protected both from within and without. It remains taboo… I mean you can criticize someone’s beliefs about really any subject… but it remains taboo to criticize their beliefs about God and I think we are paying an extraordinary price for maintaining this taboo.” Sam Harris