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My atheist manifesto – my road to disbelief

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I have stated many reasons why I am not a believer. Once again, a Christian has called my attention to one of the reasons I first fell away from the Catholic Church and then from belief in God.

Matt Barber is an attorney, the vice-president of, and a leading spokesperson for Liberty Council Action, associated with Liberty University, which was started by Jerry Falwell. He is also Associate Dean for Career and Professional Development at Liberty University.

Matt Barber has taken it upon himself to point out, for the readers of his blog, the distinction between ‘real’ Christians and ‘false’ Christians, between the ‘real’ church and the ‘false’ church.

Here is the important part of Matt Barber’s blog today:

The church: The body of Christ – those regenerate, sanctified Christ followers who have sincerely called upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, King of the universe, Creator, soul saver and sole savior of mankind, and have been forgiven, redeemed and saved by grace. The church recognizes God’s holy word as infallible, unchanging and eternal. The terms “orthodox,” “conservative,” “fundamentalists,” or “Religious Right,” are sometimes used pejoratively by those outside the church (and at times from within) in an effort to undermine the church and water down the word of God. The church is hated by the world because the world first hated Christ and, as such, must suffer persecution.

The false church: The body of self-identified Christians who may, or may not, have begun the process of sanctification through belief upon and acceptance of Christ. The false church either rejects the infallibility of scripture outright, or seeks to rationalize and radically “reform,” revise or reinterpret scripture to justify sin. False-church apostates are Olympic caliber mental and exegetical gymnasts who systemically call good that which the word of God calls evil. They imagine many paths to God and hold that the Holy-Spirit-inspired men used of God to record the Holy Scriptures were, truth be told, rather uninspired after all. Thus, our apostate friends attempt to satisfy their spiritual hunger with Christianity à la carte, taking that which is palatable and leaving behind those bitter morsels given to curb the carnal appetites.

If I interpret Matt Barber correctly, those who meet his criterion are ‘real’ Christians and members of the ‘real’ church. Those who do not meet his criterion are ‘false’ Christians, followers of ‘false’ prophets, and members of the ‘false’ church. I suspect that those that Matt Barber is sending to hell would say much the same about him and his church.

This issue was one of the first things that puzzled me about religion as a young teen. I was raised Roman Catholic in a very small Midwestern town. I attended religion classes taught mostly by nuns who stressed that the only true church was the Roman Catholic Church. They taught that good Catholics were going to heaven (with a possible stopover in purgatory), while non-Catholics were going directly to hell.

Although I had many friends who were Catholic, I also had friends who were Baptists, Lutherans, Presbyterian and others. To the best of my knowledge, there were no non-Christians in my hometown. If there were, they probably keep it quiet.

Most of my friends were good students and interested in discussions. I was surprised when I found out that these other denominations did not understand that they sending their members to hell. In fact, they were being taught that they were on the fast track to heaven and all of us who were Catholic or some ‘other’ denomination were the ones going to hell.

I tried to look at this issue the same way I looked at questions in science. I tried to figure out what kind of God would establish half-a-dozen religions.

(Remember, I was a young teen in a small town and I had never heard of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, or Animism. I had heard about Jews, but they seemed to be people who had become the early Christians.) I had heard about Paganism, but only as a derogatory word used by the nuns to describe the ‘horrible’ practices of the Romans.

I could not arrive at a sensible answer. Was it a test? Was God testing us all by seeing if we could find the single, correct path to heaven? If I was in the wrong church, as all of my non-Catholic friends believed, how was I to find my way to the right church? What if I was in the right church and I changed? If I was in the right church, didn’t I owe it to my friends to drag them, kicking and screaming, to the correct path?

Fortunately, the local high school had a reasonable library. I was able discover the many religions of the world and to read about them. After a matter of weeks, I arrived at a solution. With the exception of Paganism, which apparently accepted any and all gods, every religion had, at its root, the idea that it was the correct religion and that all others were incorrect.

Nearly every religion claimed to have been established by some sort of Supreme Being.

A few more recent religions had a history that included a human being instructed by a Supreme Being or an agent of that Supreme Being to establish that religion. The angel Gabriel spoke to Muhammad and the angel Moroni spoke to Joseph Smith.

If God had established all of those religions, he must be insane.

If God had established only one of those religions and humans had established all the others, it was impossible to know what religion to pick, because there were hundreds of them and each claimed to be the correct religion. Each claimed to be established by God or by a human acting on the instructions of God.

(Again, this was a young teen thinking. In fact, the number of religions is about 4200; there are over 30,000 denominations of Christianity, and about 1200 Christian denominations in the United States.)

For a time, I clung to antiquity as a guide, since my Roman Catholic teachers claimed a direct link between the modern Roman Catholic and Jesus. I soon found that there were many older religions, including Judaism, which pre-dated Christianity.

Many “younger” religions such as Islam and Mormonism argued that God had fostered their creation to “fix” the problem with older religions in much the same way that Christianity was to “fix” the problem with Judaism and Paganism.

(Today, many non-Catholic Christian denominations use that same argument where the Catholic Church plays the part of the “flawed” religion that needs to be “fixed”.)

Even if I ruled out all the religions that did not follow Jesus, I was still left with far too many choices.

This was the point where I first lost my faith in God. God was supposed to be a Supreme Being who knew everything, who saw everything, who knew the past and the future, and was all-powerful. It did not make sense for God to create this massive confusion nor did it make sense for God to allow it to happen due to human whim. There was no logical reason for a supremely intelligent being to make such a broken and chaotic system. Since the massive confusion existed, God could not exist.

Since that time, I have found many other reasons for disbelief.

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