Contentment Without Religion

by Russell D. Longcore

An undercurrent of comments began after I ran Laurence Vance’s article Are Evangelical Christians Warmongers? One reader calling himself “Anubis” (the jackal-headed Egyptian god) started it by commenting “Another reason I’ve become an atheist. If there was a God he would…”

I took the bait and replied “Being an atheist is unintelligent and flies in the face of reason. Being a-religious makes sense. You can acknowledge God’s existence and have a relationship with Him without embracing any particular religion.”

“Nathan McMurray” added this: “Careful Russ, you don’t know the specifics of why this reader chose atheism over theism. If it was based on “unintelligent” presuppositions then yes, his choice would be unintelligent and, therefore, fly in the face of reason. But there are many of us atheists that have examined the facts of the various Holy Scriptures and found that none of them point to anything that would resemble an all-knowing creator entity; much less an entity that has taken a keen interest in a certain species of upright walking apes and with whom they copulate. At best, all anyone can say with certainty is they are a hopeful agnostic.”

Then Richard, in the choir loft, said “Have you not read or heard that Christ brings liberty to the spiritual slave? Those who are at liberty are bound by duty to follow Christ, not chains.” Hhhmmm. Those at liberty are bound?

The stage is set, and I haven’t written about spiritual issues in quite a while. I can only write about secession so much. At some point…which I’m beginning to think I’ve already reached…there is not much more to say about secession until the triggers occur. So an article about living happily without religion seems controversial enough to get me writing again.

Here is the theme of this article: A human being can live a life filled with happiness, contentment and meaning WITHOUT religion. And that same person may have a vibrant, deep relationship with God without religion. I contend that it is actually easier to live a meaningful spiritual life without religion.

To Nathan, I say: What “facts” have you examined in Holy Writ? Can anything from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 be considered proven facts? I don’t mean the dates and rulers, like when Darius the Mead was on the throne. It doesn’t take much to line up a story with a kingdom. Nobody’s basing their world view and preconceptions about God on the handy dates in Biblical stories. That’s all small stuff. But they ARE betting their lives on all the rest of the stuff in the Bible that’s simply been made up over the last 6,000 years.

It’s the big stuff that I can’t swallow any more. The entire account of creation. The existence of Satan. The Exodus. The parting of the Red Sea. The giving of The Law on stone tablets. Taking laps around the Sinai for 40 years. Old Testament stories about the children of Israel, and strange prophecies. All of the stories about Jesus in the Four Gospels. The prophecies in The Revelation. Heaven and Hell. Sin and salvation. And the ridiculous ways that Christians explain the things that their God either does or doesn’t do in their daily lives.

The Bible is widely considered to be the Word of God. Why? Because it says so…in the Bible. It is its own reference material…it takes its authority from itself. Think how counter-intelligent that is. I am X because I say so. The Bible is widely touted to be THE Truth…ultimate truth…for the same reason…simply because the writers who were included wrote that it was so.

How Did The Bible Become The Bible?

The Canon of Scripture, meaning the compilation of the sixty-six books of the Bible’s present form, came to be as a result of a simple majority vote among the bishops of the Christian Church at the Council of Laodicaea in 364AD. There were another 44 books circulating in the Christian world that did not make the cut. Is that any way to determine truth? By a popular vote? Most of the books circulating around Christendom were written decades or centuries before 364AD. And each of the Gospels was written decades after the writers walked with Jesus in his ministry. Let’s see you write out incidents and conversations you had 20 years ago or more…verbatim. Why do you trust the judgment of a bunch of bishops to determine which books were God-breathed and which were not?

Holy writ is only deemed holy by its adherents. To wit, Bible-believing Christians reject the Koran, the Bhagavad-Gita and the Book of Mormon as heresies.

There is a writer that I recommend for a supplemental perspective on the veracity of the Bible. Lysander Spooner was a Deist and attorney who wrote extensively about religion and politics in the mid-1800s. He has written “The Deist’s Reply to the Alleged Supernatural Evidences of Christianity.” In this five-chapter work, he delivers a withering argument against the very foundations of Christianity. I challenge you to read his work and refute it.

You can find the work and read it for free at: Lysander Spooner

Also, read “The Deist’s Immortality, and an essay on man’s accountability for his belief.”

And What About The Central Character?

Today’s Christians and Catholics take it for granted that Jesus is God. But in the first three CENTURIES after Jesus’ life, there was NO consensus in Christendom that Jesus was God. And in the early 4th Century, the division came down to two clerics. Athanasius held that Jesus was the Son of God. Arius held that Jesus was “a” son of God, like others mentioned in the Old Testament books. The fight over the deity of Jesus Christ was splitting Christendom. At the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, one of those handy votes was taken, and the Athanasians…the pro-deity camp…won the vote. Is that any way to determine the deity of the individual upon whom you rely for your soul’s very salvation? For a revealing book about the Council of Nicea, read ”When Jesus Became God,” by Richard Rubenstein.

What if it is all myth?

For the first 55 years of my life, I could not…would not…even entertain the offhand, errant, blasphemous thought that the Bible could be wrong…or just not THE truth. Then some events happened in my life that caused me to rethink everything about ultimate reality. Most of the people I have ever encountered think the Bible is the word of God. But are you strong enough in your faith, or beliefs, to really honestly merely THINK about the possibility that all religion is myth? It’s no sin to doubt, and no sin to think controversial thoughts.

If you consider that all religions are myths, you will be forced to entirely retool every world view you presently hold. You’ll have to deal with:

• Who and what God is
• The Creation story
• The existence of Heaven and Hell
• Satan and evil
• The life of Jesus
• The “miracles” and ministry of Jesus
• Christmas
• Easter
• Sin and salvation
• What Christianity means…and doesn’t mean
• World history in light of myth
• The entire Bible not being God’s Word
• Your family’s reaction to you
• ENORMOUS peace of mind
• No more false guilt

Why Does Mankind Want Religion?

Religion is man’s attempt to explain the origins of himself and the universe. It’s all flowing from mankind out and back toward itself in an endless loop that never requires verification…only faith and belief. It started with those that worshipped the nature around them, and has evolved over time as mankind has learned more about himself and the universe. But think about this: why would you worship anything at all? It is because the human brain seems to have the ability to want to attribute meaning to everything. I don’t think my Doberman Kaiser or my cat Sam spend much time looking for meaning in their lives.

If God’s energy is in everything, then is everything God? There are two schools of thought. First, God created everything outside of himself, and creation stands extant of Him. God is here, and creation is over there. Second, God created everything of himself, and so the pure energy of God that holds all created things together unites all of creation inside God. The first school of thought represents Western Civilization. The second represents Eastern Civilization.

God’s face is obscured by the opaque screen of religion. Show most people in the world the Michaelangelo rendering of God on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and you’ll have what most people today think God looks like. In like manner, most people have their concept of Hell and the horned, red Devil from Dante’s Inferno, written in the 14th Century. Each religious tradition, creed, cult or church builds elaborate rules and regulations (dogma) about what human behavior is acceptable to God and what is not acceptable. And the more preposterous and authoritarian the dogma, the more faith and belief
(and adherence) are required. But the Creator is not defined by religion, only diminished. He is brought down to human level of energy, we are not elevated to his energy level.

This Creator of all but Himself has always had the power to manifest Himself to every human being that has ever lived upon this planet. If God truly wanted a relationship with mankind, or any man individually, he could simply reveal Himself. If and when God does reveal Himself to man, all “religion” will of necessity cease, as man will no longer need to reach out to God or try to explain a being he cannot experience with his five senses. Belief will be unnecessary, since mankind will KNOW God. The most jaded, cynical scientist and atheist, faced with a real God, could no longer hold onto their worldviews.

All of the rules and regulations found in the Bible, and the silly games attributed to the Creator, are an insult to the character of an infinite Being. God does not need to sneak around and play complicated faith games with humans if he desires human relationships. Accepting Him at the level of his existing universal revelation is a superior way to set aside faith and actually KNOW God.

ALL RELIGION requires you to believe things that cannot be proven. In Hebrews Chapter 11 it says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” This doesn’t say you can know a thing, but says that you can hope for a thing and your faith is the substance you get. I don’t know about any of you, but I would much rather operate my life and my core worldview based upon things that I can KNOW, not simply things I must believe. Knowing is always a higher level of energy than believing.

The GOOD NEWS…THE GREAT NEWS…is that God actually DID reveal himself to mankind through his very creation.

I believe that God has revealed these seven attributes about Himself in creation:

1. Creativity
2. Kindness
3. Love
4. Beauty
5. Expansiveness
6. Abundance
7. Receptivity

To learn more about these seven attributes of God, read ”The Power of Intention,” by Dr. Wayne Dyer.

I most heartily recommend the Deist worldview to seekers of truth. It is the worldview that requires the least amount of faith and manufactured guilt, reveals the most truth about God and the cosmos, retains meaning for human existence, and makes the most sense for those who aspire to maximum individual liberty.

DumpDC. Six Letters That Can Change History.

© Copyright 2011, Russell D. Longcore. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

6 Responses to Contentment Without Religion

  1. Aaron says:

    Great writeup, Russ. Here’s something to think about in a practical sense that really doesn’t mean much in regards to religion, but was brought home to me this past week.

    A pastor/minister/priest has a lot of clout in a community and with authorities. When those authorities come to you with allegations or actions, having a pastor/minister/priest to call upon to speak to them on your behalf has great weight in your favor.

    Here in the small town where we live, we have about half a dozen or so churches. It’s like it was in Utah, except all of the churches are different (ha). My wife grew up in a Protestant household, so she wanted to have our babies baptized in any similar church. We chose to meet with the local Lutheran minister purely because, of the three churches we called, he returned the call first. Turns out, he’s a great guy, has a very nice wife, and was formerly a computer nerd like myself. So we get along really well. He also enjoys gardening and they have a dog – more bonuses in common.

    We’ve since attended his church on and off, but do not take communion out of respect for their beliefs (we are not believers and to them, it would be a sin if we took the sacrament). The pastor is perfectly fine with our decisions and doesn’t judge us for it. He prods occasionally in hopes that we’ll “come to God”, but isn’t pushy about it. I think that I would best be described as an agnostic while my wife would likely be better described as a deist. More or less the same with the only difference being in how we pursue spirituality (I via knowledge, her via generalized faith).

    This past week, we had a run-in with “authorities” (i.e. government employees) that was not fun. It was all a misunderstanding and is now almost completely dealt with (government = everything takes time), but it was nerve-wracking to say the least. Our pastor stepped in to intervene when I called him and helped smooth the road. Again, government authoritarians put a lot of credence behind a person with a collar. We also had the advantage of our local town cops all knowing us and being actual peace officers (rather than jackbooted thugs as they are in the city).

    Although the discussion here is about religion and spirituality, there is a practical side to this. What role will clergy play in a newly-formed state and/or in the dismantling of a current government? During our revolution, they played a large role. Today?

    I believe it’s a good idea to have clergy on the side of revolutionaries, anarchists, etc. A calm, collected, respected clergyman who can confront authority holds a lot of sway.

    • Richard says:

      From the choir loft-

      Long ago, in a country as different from America today as black & white TV is from high def, the church had a voice, a conscience and acted as the true hand of a merciful God.

      In the days of Davis and Lincoln, the church was an active and aggressive participant in the political process. Today, not so much. For some reason it’s got a case of spiritual laryngitis.

      Modern American church leaders seem to have lost their cohones, choosing to preach a cotton candy gospel instead of shining the light of God’s truth on a lawless government. Where are the irate calls for justice with regard to uS secret prisons, practice of torture, invasion and occupation of foreign lands without just cause and uS war crimes executed in clear violation of the Geneva Convention (of which America is a signee).

      Everybody today is disgusted with the church. Why? Because only the empty shell of a dead religion remains. The church has denied the power of true religion; power to correct injustice, power to remind the people and the leaders what social responsibility is all about, and power to STOP the madness of a government all gone to hell.

      Would the church be an effective force to define and support a new wave of secession? NOT. Those churches who do have a modicum of life left in them are pre-programmed to support the oligarchs, the big striped flag in DC and whatever policies it chooses to enact however UNrighteous, UNjust and UNyielding they may be. My country right or wrong. Right?

      Wrong, I think, but that’s just me hollering from the choir loft.

      • Aaron says:

        While I’m not one to defend organized religion, I will point out that tax code has a lot more to do with this than the religions themselves “selling out” or becoming soft.

        If you’ve ever been involved in the day-to-day operations of a 501(3)(c), then you’ll know that ANY political talk is grounds for the IRS revoking your status and charging back taxes for up to 7 years. I do know a few preachers who are very politically active (Dr. Chuck Baldwin comes to mind), but they almost all are not registered as non-profits with the IRS.

  2. OldDog says:

    A personal insult, no, just observations over a life-time, and one of the most consistent has been, “the more intelligent perceive less need for God than those of us less intelligent”, which also is consistent with the writings of such intellects as Spooner and many more. With me, it is not a case of justifying God’s existence, or man’s depravity as I observe plenty of evidence of both being at odds with one another, which is definitively elucidated as, The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. Psalm 14:1
    I might also add that a man seeking recognition of his superior intellect so as to be a leader or teacher of a diverse society might do well to avoid a subject that may alienate half of his students or followers. I have learned that the hard way!

  3. Richard says:

    From the choir loft….
    1. … the finance committee refuses to provide funds for the purchase of a chandelier because none of the members knows how to play one.
    2. … people ask when they learn that Jesus fed the 5000, whether the two fish were bass or catfish, and what bait was they usin’ to catch’em.
    3. … when the pastor says, “I’d like to ask Bubba to help take up the offering,” five guys and two women stand up.
    4. … opening day of deer season is recognized as an official church holiday.
    5. … a member of the church requests to be buried in his 4-wheel-drive truck because “It ain’t ever been in a hole it couldn’t get out of.”
    6. … the choir is known as the “OK Chorale.”
    7. … in a congregation of 500 members; there are only seven last names in the church directory.
    8. … Baptism is referred to as “branding.”
    9. … high notes on the organ set the dogs on the floor to howling.
    10. … people think “rapture” is what you get when you lift something too heavy.
    11. … the baptismal pool is a #2 galvanized washtub.
    12. … the choir robes were donated by (and embroidered with the logo from) Billy Bob’s Barbecue.
    13. … the collection plates are really hub caps from a ’56 Chevy.
    14. … instead of a bell, you are called to service by a duck call.
    15. … the minister and his wife drive matching pickup trucks.
    16. … the communion wine is Boone’s Farm “Tickled Pink.”
    17. … “Thou shalt not covet” applies to hunting dogs, too.
    18. … the final words of the benediction are, “Y’all come back now!! Y’hear?”

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