An Open Letter to the Religious –
by Gregory King
I love a good story. The best ones pull you in and change you. A good story can show you what you should be – and what you shouldn’t be. Our very human stories date to our beginnings, back before we left the caves.
We have made up stories to entertain and educate ourselves. To explain the Universe around us and show us how to live – or how not to live. One of these stories has caused much suffering and death over our long history. It continues to do so today. The story of the God of Abraham, the Bible, is not a good story. It’s time for a change.
More than a thousand years before the Old Testament or the Odyssey, an unknown author recorded the first enduring story in the history of humankind. The Epic of Gilgamesh was scratched onto clay tablets in the cuneiform writing style of ancient Sumer over four thousand years ago.
Gilgamesh ruled around 2750 B.C. His story is a mixed journey of perilous endeavors and acquired wisdom, but it also includes many familiar myths such as the Great Flood and the original Noah.
The Bible is a collection of stories told by a small group of humans wandering the desserts of the Mideast. Much of these stories were retellings of older stories circulating through the societies that surrounded these nomadic tribes. They borrow heavily from Egyptian, Sumerian and Greek lore and the tellers personalized the stories to fit their tribes and superstitions. Much as we have done with our popular stories today.
Take, as example, the wonderful stories of Marvel and DC Comics. Or the brilliant stories of Harry Potter. Or, my favorite, the amazing tale of Doctor Who and the fascinating story lines that run through fifty years of TV episodes and span all of time and space. The world’s libraries are filled with millions upon millions of wonderful books – all giving us details on and examples of being a decent, caring human – or showing us what horror humans can foster on each other. And out of all these books, there is just one that is more important than any other?
The history of the spread of Christianity is not filled with joy, wonder, or acceptance. Christianity did not blossom across the Western world. The Christian doctrine was forced upon the conquered people of Europe by the Roman military machine. The Roman Catholic Church became the governing body and Christianity became law. It is widely accepted that if Alfred the Great had lost the Battle of Edington to the Great Heathen Army led by Guthrum The Viking back in AD 878 the Western world would be worshiping the Norse Gods Thor and Odin.
When Christianity took over Europe it led to The Inquisition and The Dark Ages – a truly horrific time in human history. The brutal acts committed by The Church were all justified by the Bible.
There is not a single person on the planet today who could live by the Bible. A cursory read of Leviticus, Deuteronomy or Exodus shows that to live by the Bible you would have to break our most cherished morals. Would you stone your neighbor to death for cutting his grass on a Sunday (or Saturday)? No, you would not. Would you kill your children for talking back? Would you invade a neighboring town and kill every living thing – women, children, pets et al – because they didn’t believe in your brand of religion? The examples are legion, too many to list. I respectfully ask that you read the Bible. Really read it. Is this the way you want to live your life?
Yes, I know. Jesus came and made everything better. Well, yes and no. Read the New Testament. I think you will be very uncomfortable at so many things done and said. Let’s also not forget the fact the Jesus is said to have said (he doesn’t directly say anything) that the old laws must be followed.
I understand that, for the majority of the religious, these old stories of death, murder, rape, fratricide, matricide, filicide, torture, slavery and genocide, have been pushed aside in favor of a more palatable story line. Many today are claiming that God is love or that God is all things or that God is a loving being. But make no mistake, if God or Jesus is involved, the death and destruction will go on. It’s in the Bible and no matter what you may try to dismiss, if we continue to claim the Bible is the Word of God there will be violence and hatred in our world.
That brings us to my honest question – can we please get another story? Every major conflict going on in the world today has religion and the Bible at its heart. Thousands suffer and die every day. It’s not just Islam, Israel is in constant war and let’s not forget the Catholics and the Protestants in Ireland. Many Christians in America see themselves in a war with any who don’t follow the Bible – people have died from that war. Many falsely claim America is a Christian nation by birth. Men, women and children have suffered under this alternative fact.
Let’s get a story that’s all about real love and forgiveness, about being respectful and responsible. If you need a God, let’s get a new one, please. Make him like Superman or Captain America if you like. If we don’t tell a better story, we are going to keep killing each other over the one we have.
Authors note: Make no mistake, I am an atheist. I also take a step further in that I am an antitheist. I believe that theism – the belief in a god or gods – is harmful to the welfare and wellbeing of humanity. The history of humankind bears this out – in spades.
Oft times non-believers can be outright rude when confronted with the concepts and precepts of the major religions. I’ve been guilty of that, and for those transgressions I am sorry. Please understand that as a group, we non-believers take an enormous amount of shit, daily. We can get right cranky. (As example, here’s prominent atheist Richard Dawkins reading some of his email: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gW7607YiBso&t=60s
And remember – read your Bible.