"Rather than pick over the carcass of Christianity (or any other traditional faith) looking for a few, uncontaminated morsels of wisdom, why not take a proper seat at the banquet of human understanding in the present? There are already many very refined courses on offer. For those interested in the origins of the universe, there is the real science of cosmology. For those who want to know about the evolution of life on this planet, biology, chemistry and their subspecialties offer real nourishment. (Knowledge in most scientific domains is now doubling about every five years. How fast is it growing in religion?) And if ethics and spirituality are what concern you, there are now scientists making serious efforts to understand these features of our experience-both by studying the brain function of advanced contemplatives and by practicing meditation and other (non-faith-based) spiritual disciplines themselves. Even when it comes to compassion and self-transcendence, there is new wine (slowly) being poured. Why not catch it with a clean glass?" ~ Sam Harris
I was motivated to post this after reading Carly's testimony. If you leave a testimony, let me know if I can repost it. I would like to get a good list of testimonies going on teh blog.
Several polls have revealed that Atheists are amongst society's most deplored and least trusted demographics, with most people unwilling to vote for a qualified atheist on the grounds that said atheist rejects the voting publics' particular fairy tale of choice. About a year ago, Richard Dawkins launched the Out Campaign to counter this.
I believe, as Dawkins does, that the way to combat this is to be heard. Therefore if you do not believe that a god exists, leave your testimony here and whether or not you will allow me to reprint it. If you suspect that Jesus may not have been born of a virgin or that Allah is not the creator of the universe, but have never been that vocal about it, consider making now the time. Being counted as an atheist in an overtly religious nation that statistically abhors us is not easy to do, I understand that. Consider the fact that your testimony will make it easier for the next person to come out, and all the people after them. I know from the e-mails received over the last three years that many people who have grown up being indoctrinated with faith have long since shed their religious ballasts in lieu of seeing the world as it is - not how they or those who wrote their holy books want it to be. There is no liability to this whatsoever, and you should not be ashamed to drink in the beauty of the universe from a clean glass.
We are intelligent people, we are moral people - our only crime is how much more rational about assessing reality we are than our pious counterparts, and it is an indictment we should welcome.
- "I'm so atheist that I won't even ball any dudes that talk about supernatural forces controlling our lives."
~ Jessica Landis, Chicago IL
- "Even as little as six months ago, I used to feel like everyone's religion was their prerogative. How did I have the right to say that I'm right and other people can't have this strange fantasy called God and religion when it makes them feel so good about themselves and their lives? (All ridiculous fanatics excluded.) I didn't think there was any god, but I didn't feel the need to push that on others.
But then I changed my mind."
~ Carly Ann, Springfield MO
(Read the rest of Carly's testimony on Teh Juggernauts.)
- "Most of the activities at church I only attended for social reasons, though. My closest friends went to the church events, so I would go to hang out with them, which I expect is what the majority of Christians do as well. Still, despite this, I'm one of the very few Christians I knew who faithfully had a quiet time daily for years straight. As a result, I think I have a vast knowledge of the Bible, both what is in it and what isn't in it.
Last year, when I was 18 or 19, if someone held a gun up to my head and asked if I was a Christian, I would have said yes without the slightest hesitation. I believe I would have anyways. I had thought about it often (which, in itself is sad)."
~ Kevin Sweet, Springfield MO
(The rest of Kevin's Testimony can be found here - it's really quite good)
- "Of course, once I had started to look critically at what religion has done (both to me, and to society in general), I was infuriated. I grew up feeling like there was something wrong with me for going through puberty normally and wanting to have sex. I felt ashamed of myself my whole adolescence because I was told that having an attraction to someone was a sign of sin. I grew up hating myself because of religion. I trusted an imaginary person to protect me from my abusive stepdad, and actually believed that he helped! I taught myself that what I saw around me was false, and that doctrine was right no matter what. I forced myself to believe lies and discard the truth. I trusted in so much that simply does not hold up…all for the hope of another life so I didn’t have to deal with this one.
This has been the most important year of my life. I have searched myself and found much. I have found that I have no reason to be ashamed of myself. I have found that there is no fate but what we make. I have found that if I want my life to be better, I need to work towards it, since nobody else will do the work for me. I have learned to be a stronger person. Even though it hurt, I’m proud to say that I’ve discarded superstition."
~ Josh Wilson, Springfield MO
(The rest of Josh's testimony can be read here.)
- "What I was reading in the bible appalled me. I may have cast the monstrosity of it aside, saying that god’s ways are inscrutable or something like that; except that it was shortly before I started reading the bible that I also began to read up on Astronomy. The difference between the bible and even the most elementary Astronomy book astounded me. There was no need to explain away seemingly atrocious parts of Astronomical texts – they were written plainly and precisely. They were stuffed with so much information, things that I could not even come close to comprehending as a child, but that they were always willing to explain if I applied myself.
Conversely, the bible insisted that I could not question. It made a virtue of obeying even the cruelest edicts without pause (see the story of Abraham and Isaac or of Jephtha and his daughter). There was never a case of god ever explaining anything to anybody. It occurred to me that this was why people were always bickering over what god’s will truly was, even in my old church. It was because the bible is a muddled book from which we can draw no precise conclusions the way they could in Astronomy."
~ JT Eberhard, Springfield MO
(The rest of JT's testimony can be read here.)
- "Many life events conspired to put me in my place. A main influence was the canceling effect of Eastern Orthodoxy on my Protestantism. I had to abandon a great deal of the shallow things which justified my Protestant viewpoint, and in mid-process noticed I wasn't standing on anything at all. Not only that, but if we are to take what the Church Fathers said seriously all of the sudden there are some very specific things to disagree with on a variety of issues not necessarily elucidated in Scripture. I was better off in Protestant land where I could very easily disagree with everyone and heed my own interpretation. Anyway, Eastern Orthodoxy was clearly a better denomination and also clearly set itself up (to me at least) for a fall. Another factor was a girlfriend at the time whose opinion I respected showed me what a Prot-bot I was. And yet taking the "cult think" seriously led directly to being one. It doesn't say on the Bible, "Humanistic values not included."
~ Ben Schuldt, St. Louis MO
(The rest of Ben's testimony can be read here.)