The belief that has kept me busy for an extended period of time. At this point I've devoted around a third of my life to figuring out what God is all about. The God I take issue with is the anthropomorphic creator God. The one Christianity brings us. Due to my upbringing in Christianity it's the Christian God that I relate to and understand the best. We are asked to believe that this all knowing God created everything that is now, and has ever been, in existence. I take issue with this.
I don't believe that anybody would willingly believe in a God that created the concept and reality of suffering. Why would an omnipotent God create suffering? I understand the idea that we need duality to know anything. That is to say that up has no reference without down. We cannot conceive of what it means to stop unless we first understand what it means to put into action, and in order to perceive you need an object and a perceiver. Duality is how we experience reality. However, if I were an omnipotent and omniscient God, and I had the power to create and destroy everything, I would have done it differently. I would have created life in such a way that it was only possible to know eternal bliss. Everything in creation would be nothing more than the experience of rapturous bliss. That is the only option for a good and well intentioned creator God. God has the ability to make it so. So why has he not done so?
The fact that he did not create bliss, and nothing else but bliss, means that he didn't want to. That means that he wanted to create suffering. Okay, so Satan is where the evil comes from right? A fallen angel...we all know the story. Well, God created the free will that allowed Satan to fall to begin with. Never mind the fact that God knows everything and therefore had to know what Satan was ultimately going to do. God created the capacity in Satan for him to perpetuate evil. Either way, God is the creator. Why would anybody believe in a God that would create suffering?
God is a middle man. Basically no matter what you believe you have to first believe that something came from nothing, or do you? There was nothing then there was something. Where did something come from? Science says it came from the big bang and religion says that it came from God. Well where did the big bang come from and likewise where did God come from? Both camps will answer that in a similar fashion with only rhetoric separating them. Science says it doesn't know and religion says God has just always existed. He never had a beginning or an ending. Okay so God has always been and he didn't come from anywhere.
Well, I say that existence has just always existed. Existence never had a beginning and it will never have an end. Consciousness has always existed. That is my answer to God. To get from nothing to something you need something else. To get from always to forever you don't need anything. Consciousness embodies that perfectly. It is my belief that consciousness has always been and has no creator. The point to consciousness is existence, which defines itself. Consciousness perceiving itself for eternity and for no reason. It just is...that...way.
So than what happens to us when we die? Hell if I know because I'm not dead and I have no recollection of ever dying. I can speculate. I can come up with some beliefs based on whatever works for me. Logic does not have much of a place in figuring out what happens when the enabler of logic, the brain, stops with it's neuro-transmission. I like to think that karma and reincarnation are real. I think the concepts work will with each other given a view of reality that does not entail an anthropomorphic creator God. Historically Karma is a well trodden path. There is instant karma, karma that takes a while, karma that takes a while longer, and karma that manifests as you coming back as a leaper or possibly an ant depending on your particular brand of misbehavior. Reincarnation may or may not be what happens to you depending on whether or not you can spot the right colored Buddha while in the Bardo. It can be as ridiculous as you want really. You see, I don't know that karma and reincarnation are real I just choose to believe that they may be. I'm in touch with the fact that I don't know them to be true. I'm not claiming that they are the only possibility, and I sure as hell ain't condemning anybody to burn for eternity if they disagree. Now we have reached the hook...my pet peeve...and nobody has talked me down from it.
The hook is the one that I'm not going to let you off of until you explain yourself to me. All of the philosophy behind religion, or rather theology, is all right with me. I have just illustrated that I believe your chance at free enlightenment upon your death and subsequent visit to the Bardo all depends on whether or not you can pick the right color Buddha. You only have seven and a half minutes to do this by the way...in human time. So I can't condemn anybody for believing in anthropomorphic bearded God's in the clouds (he's the guy with the lightening bolt pictured above). However, when you start condemning people to burn in hell for eternity because they don't believe like you...now we have a problem.
Christianity= God, Jesus, Satan, Heaven, Hell, Jesus as the way to redemption and salvation and therefore bliss in Heaven...these are the necessary beliefs you must subscribe to in order to call yourself a Christian. Any deviation from this and you are not a Christian. Let me explain.
Christianity has been transmitted to us via the Bible. Everything a Christian knows about their religion comes from this book. The Bible is Christianity. Now I will concede that you can call yourself Christian and not have to take the Bible word for word. For example, you can be gay and Christian even though the bible pretty much says sodomy is a sin. You can be pro-choice and be Christian. You can even view the majority of the Bible as poetry. Okay, I get that, but you can't do all of that and then deny the very things that make calling yourself a Christian have any meaning. Let me rephrase that. If you say you are Christian and you don't believe in Jesus...who is supposed to take you seriously? If you can call yourself Christian and pick and choose only the parts that you like than why do you need to call yourself Christian to begin with?
My point is that in order for Christianity to have any meaning there has to be some commonality amongst all Christians. To my estimation that would be God, Jesus, Satan, Heaven, Hell, and Jesus as personnel savior. If you don't believe in those things, you can call yourself a Christian but then when I say I'm an African American Cheetah you have to concede that I am indeed an African American Cheetah even though you know that I'm actually a very Anglo Saxon Irish American dude. I'm going to proceed as though you agree with my stipulations on the requirements of Christian belief. Now for that hook I was talking about (I apologize for carrying on like I have been for the last couple of paragraphs but I find it imperative that you understand my pet peeve, and if you are still reading you deserve some type of karmic reward).
If you are Christian than you have to believe that Jesus is the only way to Heaven. This would have to be true for all of humanity. If that is true than all non-Christians have a special seat reserved for them in Hell. By your own belief you condemn all of the non-Christian world to burn in hell for eternity. That....is...nonsense. This is now, and has always been, my main problem with Christianity. The truth of the vengeful God of the old testament is covered up and forgotten about because he showed up in the flesh and suffered for a while. The foundation that laid the path for Jesus to make any sense was full of more violence than any other book every written. God exterminated the entire human race minus a few select individuals...talk about genocide. All of that is to be forgotten because of Jesus. Jesus was God incarnate and God created the duality that is suffering and bliss.
To eat from the tree of knowledge was our original sin. Worse than that, it was Eve's sin and she got it all over mankind. Adam didn't even know he was eating the forbidden fruit but he was still punished for it...him and the rest of mankind along with him. So here we have a loving God condemning mankind to suffering because of the evil woman who didn't listen to a simple command. God condemning mankind to suffering because Eve wanted to know. God condemning mankind to suffering because of the rules to a game that he himself created...free will. To be fair the story of Adam and Eve is a really good story. If it's viewed as a symbolic representation of man's mistake. In Buddhist terms that mistake would be getting caught up in Samsara to begin with. Samsara being the phantasmagorical world of sense gratification. In this case God would be enlightenment and the apple would be sensory distraction. Somewhere in there the slivering snake of an ego shows up.
I apologize for the drifting off in all directions. I tend to do that when discussing this subject. It's multifaceted.
I could continue on like this for thousands and thousands of words. There are many reasons why I renounced Christianity but I believe I have covered the main ones. Ultimately the non-redeemable reason is the idea that all other truth believers and seekers are thrown out with the dirty bathwater. If you are Christian than you believe that...you have to. If you are not willing to believe that all other religions are going to hell, and you call yourself Christian, than you are in denial. I'm sorry to be the blunt object to the side of the head on this one, but it's true. Unless you can make a descent case why you consider yourself Christian and don't believe in Hell...I've never heard one.
I went to Spartanburg Methodist College after I graduated high school. SMC is a two year private college. All of the professors were Christian, apologetics, but Christian none-the-less. I asked these questions of those professors. All I ever got was the run around ending in "you just have to believe". I tried to understand. I thought that if that missing piece could just be transmitted to me than I would be able to be Christian wholeheartedly. It never came. Mostly my questions were diverted with religious distractions designed to cultivate fear.
In the end the problem is that society has been programmed. We are taught that there is normal and anything deviating from this normal, within a small tolerance, is to be reeled back into center. It's not just religion. Political beliefs, sexuality, nationalism, race relations, gender identity and religion are all designated for us. Main stream media does a good job of teaching us what to be afraid of, what to believe. Generations of this herding creates people who are not capable of critical thought. It has created people who are not willing to question anything outside of societal norms. All I ask of anybody is to be responsible and truthful to themselves. If you are not completely honest with yourself than you can never be honest to anybody else.
One of the worlds greatest spiritual teachers once said something along these lines: "how can you be worried about the splinter in your neighbors eye when you have a log sticking out of your own." Here's to being less religious and more Christlike. Merry Christmas!