My faith in God was not lost in a day.
It took many years of questioning, and it all started with competitive Apologetics speaking when I was a teenager. Later my journey included many friends made and lost who helped me learn about science, or who gave me the same redundant reasons to remain a Christian that I was quietly debunking. It lasted as I lost friends over being a Christian ally to gay, lesbian, and bi people (I knew about the other letters but hadn’t Bibled my way through them). Even through the loss of my family and most of my community, I clung to Jesus. I trusted that he would be faithful if I proved myself worthy of him by loving him more than even my father, mother, brothers, sisters, and friends.
I need to give my friends space to get away, too. They have much to lose.
Many people cannot even fathom a world where God does not exist, because in that world, they are alone to navigate this muck of human life. No purpose, no heaven or hell, no divine justice or intervention, no hope after death – these are extremely heavy ideas, quite too much for the average cishet white Christian to stop and re-examine. Why should they? It would only mean risking your cut of the family wealth.
And that’s why I am urging my Christian friends to, for the sake of your love for God, think about what Christianity does for you. Not the answers to prayer, not “where you’re at in your walk” or if you’re “going through a dry spell.”
And beyond them, I ask the non-Christians, the white people with wealth to spare for trinkets that exploit, to consider: do you believe in Karma because it is convenient? How convenient is your world, and how much confirmation bias is reaffirmed with privilege? I have realized that I was not lucky, I was white. And I would rather endure oppression than benefit from it.
You, white America, religious and non-religious, you have made the choice to turn a blind eye to how your money got in your pocket, brushing it away with endless justifications that make you sound like the victims. We have got to stop buying our own bullshit that we earned this empire, our inheritance, the jobs we’ve had and the stuff we’ve owned. We didn’t earn it. We stole it. It must be returned, and soon.
And beyond them, I ask the people of color who are still committed to the Christian faith, what on earth has Christianity ever done for you? Why are you still worshiping and praying to the god of your oppressors?
Yet I know that in a world run by my ancestors and cousins and parents and siblings, who speak of colorblindness while ignoring mass injustice and exploitation, you have much to lose, too. If mass deconversion happened across the country in minority groups, how much easier it would be to continue dehumanizing you.
I write this with such urgency because, well, the end of the world is coming. And it’s not your dad’s apocalypse.
Jesus isn’t coming back. The Mayan calendar isn’t finally coming to a close. Whatever your idea of the “end times” are, they’re as mythical as any other myth. Yet our need is still urgent.
Humans – we are going to destroy ourselves. In twelve years, we’ll reach the point of no return. The planet as a habitat for our species will be done for, far sooner than our planet’s orbit will lose its life-supporting position in relation to our sun. This is not a hoax, it is not a prophecy from a subjective source, it is really happening, and we’re too gridlocked to stop it collectively. To argue with this fact is like trying to have an argument with an inanimate object, such as a thermometer.
In the end, I surrendered to science because I could no longer argue with it. I was defeated – nay, enamored – by its logic, the thoroughness of the laws we’ve observed. We don’t know everything, but the beauty of science is we may someday know, and if we know more later than we knew now, we will adjust our understanding according to what we know later on.
With religion, uncertainty is painted in quite a different light. It is something to fear, something to resist and avoid, or, if you manage past those, it is something to trust. Odd as that sounds, there’s a whole school of theology that demands the trust of uncertainty – simply put, it sounds like many trite phrases including “let go and let God” and “he helps me when my faith is weak” and “If I don’t understand it, God does.”
Angry atheists accuse angry Christians of the same hypocrisy, and vice versa:
“How do you know the cell formed on its own?” The Christian asks.
“I don’t know,” says the atheist, “But science is getting closer every day to finding out.”
“Ha! You are no better than me!” says the Christian, “I don’t know, but God does, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
The religious person, or ironically non-religious person who benefits from the system, looks backward for answers. Science looks forward. And those who are looking forward, trying to learn everything they can about the universe, see a pretty fucking bleak future ahead. Because the fact is, it doesn’t matter how we got here. We’re going to poof into nothingness in the blink of an eye compared to the universe. It doesn’t matter if God put us here or not. We are on a planet with an ecosystem, and acting like business as usual won’t come to a grinding halt soon – with our own blood, the carnage – is not only laughably ridiculous, it’s cruel.
It’s cruel because we were warned. By the people whose blood stain every inch of this nightmarish grid we’ve constructed. The indigenous peoples we’ve largely murdered in genocide are to this day unable to meaningfully change the way humans live. That is what oppression and exploitation means.
I cannot be silent any longer about how crucial it is that people leave religion behind, and soon. We have so much more to lose than the small worlds we were raised in.
I’m going to close with this quote, instead of opening with the song lyrics. The song is called “Arguing with Thermometers,” and there’s a little screaming, but most people find Enter Shikari’s sound accessible, despite its metal flavor. You can listen to the song here.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’re all addicted the the most abusive, destructive drug of all time, and I ain’t talking about class A’s – that business is miniscule when compared – and just like any addict desperate to get his next fix, we resort to petty crimes to secure our next hit…So let me get this straight; as we witness the ice-caps melt, instead of being inspired into changing our ways, we’re going to invest into military hardware to fight for the remaining oil that’s left beneath the ice? But what happens when it’s all gone? You haven’t thought this through, have you, boys?”
I really wish I had something more to conclude with than an angry song. Sign a petition, donate, do something that helps – I wish it was that easy. But the more I research solutions, the less likely it seems that we’ll solve humanity’s flaws (another post for another time – why is humanity wicked?), and all we can do is scream about it until we are no more.
That said, I am still far less depressed, far more engaged and enthused, and am becoming a better writer as a non-Christian than I was as a Christian. A lot of people liked me better when I was a Christian. But I was behaving how I thought I had to. Now my only chains are those of the system I’m trapped in.
This conversation is about our dependence on fossil fuels as much as it is about how we grieve our loved ones who have passed. It has a lot to do with my justice and advocacy series about wealth disparity. I don’t have all the answers, of course.
But I am burdened, and so I write.