Why I am not Christian Anymore

I’ve been avoiding it, but I think it’s time I put this in a nutshell. I could write endless pages about this, but I won’t do that here. I can deal with a lot of uncertainty and grey areas. But I can’t swallow the main points, and that’s all there is to it.

– The scientific consensus (and there is incontrovertible, overwhelming evidence for it) is that this universe came into existence a long time ago. We human beings evolved from lower forms of animals. We have been around for a five or six-figure number of years, depending on how you define it. There has always been death, suffering, and killing, and the Jews did not come into the picture until just a few thousand years ago. I do not know why any of this all happened. But if Christianity were true, I would expect God to be there at the beginning of humanity’s existence (not thousands upon thousands of generations later), and I would expect him to have made a good and perfect world with human beings who can be perfect (because Jesus is supposed to be fixing something that is broken). But God didn’t reveal himself in prehistory, the world has always been full of death and suffering, and no human ever had a choice to avoid this “sinful nature” we’re in. Furthermore, we had to figure these things out ourselves using science. Nobody told us. This doesn’t mean there is no purpose to the universe, but I’ve decided that this fundamentally does not fit with the Christian story.

– God is invisible. Christianity talks about a personal God. When I close my eyes and pray, I just hear my own mind echoing off the walls of my skull. I know how to feed myself answers and pretend that I am communicating with God, but I am not. If Yahweh and Jesus are personal, then I expect that they would communicate with us. But we know (as above) that God did not speak to people openly in the past, and he has never spoken to me. This does not mean there is no God, but Christianity suggests that God is personal, and spoke to people directly and that he spoke to humans at large in the past.

– The Bible is wrong about too many things. Many stories in the Old Testament definitely didn’t happen, most of them almost certainly didn’t happen, and the Jews back then didn’t even know what happened to them when they died.  There is a book in the Old Testament about how life is meaningless. There are comparatively few traces of Israel in the ancient world except for a few scraps from the United Monarchy. It is distinctly possible that the Jews evolved from the Canaanites, and that worship of Yahweh evolved from Canaanite polytheism (or at least got mixed in with it for a while).  The whole thing is just not what happened. The Old Testament is a bunch of dubious, ancient stories that are similar to the ancient religious stories of other cultures. This doesn’t mean it’s worthless, but it does not look like the Word of God one bit.

– The New Testament is good quality, but the fact is that the authors were willing to make things up. Two of the authors fabricated Jesus’ birth story to make the Bethlehem prophecies fit into place. There are miraculous stories mixed into the middle that are clearly made up (Satan flying Jesus around and tempting him – this is clearly invented because of the type of pattern it follows, the fact that Jesus would probably not have told the story around a campfire upon returning, and the fact that the presumably earlier version of this story, in Mark, includes no such details). If they were willing to make things up, then they were willing to make the ending up. This does not mean that Jesus was not missing from his tomb or presumed resurrected; it just means that nobody necessarily wrote down what really happened. Jesus is big… but four short stories about his life are not enough to account for the three points above.

– Christianity requires you to believe in eternal bliss in heaven with God for Christians, and eternal torment in hell for non-Christians (presumably those who do not “believe in Jesus”). People who don’t believe that “Jesus was the Son of God” are quite likely to burn eternally. Forever and ever. Torture for trillions upon trillions of years for billions and billions of people (most people you know), and that’s just the beginning–for not being forgiven of a “sinful nature” that God created them with during their short time on earth. A “sinful nature” that he intentionally gave to all 100 billion of us since the beginning of time (and didn’t tell most people about). If you turn off all the lights in your house, lie on your bed and think about this, without anything else in the world to distract you or make you think about tomorrow, you will realize that this is absolutely mental. I don’t even want to go to that kind of heaven for all eternity. And what about hell! Pretty much nobody acts, or is capable of acting, as if it is true. This does not mean there is no consciousness after death, but I’m almost certain that nobody will be roasting (or rotting, or quivering in darkness with “metaphorical” flames) for all eternity.

This is really all there is to it. I could raise a million other objections about what happens to dead babies, personality changes due to brain damage, memory loss, continuity of self, the souls of chimps, the eternal destiny of Homo habilis, the fact that Jesus didn’t come back immediately as seems to be implied, etc. But those aren’t the core issues. The core issue is that Christianity tells me about a personal God who speaks to humans, worked through a chosen people, left us his written Word, created us for a loving relationship with him, sent his son to redeem our fallen state, and gives eternal life to those who accept his gift. But the Christian God doesn’t speak to me, there were no Jews until very recently, the Bible is mostly wrong about everything, people are not and were not born with knowledge of God, we did not fall from grace because the world was always full of suffering and “sin,” and we only need his eternal life because he created us to die.

There are a lot of unanswered questions, and I recognize this. I can accept that there are answers I don’t have–but Christianity rests upon the answers it claims to have to a few big questions: and all those answers do not work. What’s left when you clear those away? It’s just believing in “something more,” being selfless, asking for forgiveness, going to church and being kind. It isn’t Christianity anymore. So that means I’m not a Christian anymore.

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