Saturday, August 18, 2012

The trinity of belief

Having been a god-fearing Christian and now an atheist, I fully understand the reasons why Christians believe as they do, regardless of how absurd the bible may be. As an atheist, I recognize the flaw in their logic. Fundamentally, there are three reasons why Christians believe, each one supporting the other, creating a trinity of belief.

The Universe was created

Many Christians believe what they do on the false assumption that the universe was created, and attribute the creation of the universe to God. Every Christian I've spoken to proclaims, "All of this had to come from somewhere!" Does it really? When it comes to life, we have a pretty good understanding on how evolution works; we never see anyone or anything spring into existence. I know that I came from my parents, who came from their parents, on and on back in a process that is very well understood. Nature gives us clues as to our origin. As for the matter and energy of which the Universe is made up of, I find it very strange that one would assume this would need creating, given that the infinite nature of the existence of the matter and energy that makes up the universe stares us right in the face with the law of conservation of matter and energy. Whenever I mention this to a Christian, they have a difficult time comprehending an ever-changing universe that exists infinitely in spite of this observable and testable evidence, and yet they are quick to accept that God exists infinitely. It's very strange to me that they must keep believing in God, and I can think of only one reason why they refuse to accept the truth: The promise of an afterlife.

The afterlife

Christians believe that if they believe in God and Jesus, they will go to a place called heaven when they die. This also seems very strange, given that there is absolutely no evidence to support this belief. To this day, nobody who has died has ever come back, except in the questionable stories written in the bible. Given what we currently understand of the workings of the human brain through medical science, one has to wonder why belief in a spirit persists. Clearly, consciousness is the product of a working brain; when the brain starts to fail, consciousness also starts to fail. One can imagine bronze aged men looking up to the sky and imagining a place above the clouds, among the stars; but we have traveled above those clouds and have seen the stars for what they really are. We have even traveled to some of those ancient, far-off places in the sky; putting a man on the moon and robots on Mars. Why, then, hold on to those ancient misinformed beliefs? Because they are old.

The Bible is a very old text

The Christian logic works something like this: The earliest texts of the bible were written a few thousand years ago, and people who existed a few thousand years ago are closer to the beginning of our species than we are today, and as such were able to see things of a much earlier earth. The trouble with this logic is that, given the few billion years the earth has been around and the many billions of years the known configuration of the universe has existed, a few thousand years ago might as well be yesterday. Consider the scale we're discussing. A billion is equal to a thousand million. Imagine, if you will, the insignificance of one dollar compared to a million dollars. The single dollars start looking insignificant once you start seeing hundreds of dollars; even more so at thousands of dollars. Move up to tens of thousands, and that dollar is barely a drop in the bucket. At hundreds of thousands, it's not even a drop as it becomes nearly impossible to imagine each individual dollar. At a million, a dollar might as well be a penny, or even a fraction of a penny. Indeed, you would never see the actual dollars that make up a billion; at that point, money becomes conceptual rather than actual.

Now consider that we possess scientific instruments that allow us to look into the past many billions of years. Our Hubble telescope allows us to see distant galaxies as they were 13.2 billion years ago. Radiometric dating allows us to determine geological and fossil records that date back hundreds of millions of years, with carbon dating permitting greater accuracy on a scale of tens of thousands of years. Our science allows us to see well beyond what the bronze aged men who wrote the bible couldn't have possibly even imagined. What they saw of the world and the universe wasn't a whole lot different from what we see today, except today we have powerful instruments at our disposal along with a much better understanding of the natural world. Our knowledge of the past of our species and planet are far more accurate than theirs could ever have been, as we are reading the things that nature tells us.


Having once been a Christian, I understand this trinity of belief quite well. It is absurd given what we know today, but most Christians will never read their bible or allow their trinity of belief to be challenged. They become like the child at Christmas who fears he will get no more presents if he stops believing in Santa. Nevertheless, there really is nothing to fear, because nothing will be lost. It's my sincere hope that others will recognize Christianity for what it is, and regard it in the same manner as they do Greek and Norse mythologies.