Thursday, April 26, 2018

Why My Anti-Theism Emanates From Love and NOT Hate

From childhood I've always had a “hero complex”. I guess it started with cartoons.... “Here I come to save the day. That means that Mighty Mouse is on the way”. Or, “There's no need to fear. Underdog is here”. Later came comic books. In the magical place called “kidland” I imagined being bit by a radioactive spider and becoming Spiderman... or encountering Dr. Don Blake's cane that I could tap on the ground, transforming me into Thor and the cane into his mighty hammer, Mjolnir. And I also imagined myself as one of a group of superheroes like the Avengers or the Justice League. Green Lantern was a favorite – along with the widely heralded Superman and Batman – but the Marvel Comics superheroes were by far my favorites – and the Black Panther, Wakandan king T'Challa, stood high above them all!

Upon fully embracing the cold, hard sobriety of reality, the only “supernatural” force left to believe in during my developing years was god. He was the last superhero still believed by the larger society to be real. And I was already comfortable both with the notion that: a) I could be an effective superhero within a superhero collaborative, and b) a superhero didn't need super powers. Batman, Robin, Iron Man, and a few others didn't have them. Thus, I felt confident that I could be a “superhero” in the “army of the lord”. HE had powers that he could bestow upon me, and I could fight evil as a superhero under his impeccable charge. It seemed perfect!

You see, it's very important that one understands that I am not the guy who came to “de lawd” after living a rambunctious life and seeking absolution for misdeeds against humanity. I was the idealistic teen seeking to join a league of superheroes dedicated to protecting humanity against injustice and evil. I was the teen who only lost his virginity about a month before his 16th birthday. I was also the teen who became so enamored with females, tried to bed every one who possessed even a slither of sexiness. I was the same teen who later became celibate, forewent parties and intoxicants, and immersed himself in prayer as substitutes for about 14 months from age 19 to 21 [from about a month before my 20th birthday to a month after my 21rst].

It was during this time period that I also came to realize that there was no devil to be afraid of while still holding on to the belief in a god. This came as a result of my friendship with one Michael Wayne Tyson. Many will recall Tyson's leaving Iowa State after a stellar freshman football season and returning home. He did so because of spiritual reasons. He believed that god was directing him to return home for further spiritual guidance. Upon his return he introduced me to Triumph the Kingdom of God in Christ. It was a small church on West Washington Street but, at the time, we met at various church members' homes.

Triumph had split with the larger Church of God in Christ (COGIC) over the acceptance of Father E. D. Smith's “revelation” that man could live (here on Earth) and not die. The “revelation” was that man only died because he simply wasn't close enough to god. Now, all church members do continue to die despite said revelation but the idea intrigued me at the time. It seemed possible that – since it's estimated that man only uses 10% of his brain in a lifetime – a close relationship with god would reveal the secret to using the entire brain and thus the... “greater things shall you do...”. All members of Triumph hadn't accepted Father Smith's pronouncements at that time, so those who did, met at members' homes until the full body came into acceptance.

This is why Tyson and I were so close. Many didn't understand the close relationship between the acknowledged Mr. Athletics and I – the “nerdy brainiac”. But, despite the notion of many that the term “cool nerd” is an oxymoron, that's exactly what I've always been. My sister had taught me to “hand dance”, as we called it (a variation of what has come to be known across the country as “stepping”), in the sixth grade. As such, I've always been the nerd who was an absolute killer on the dance floor. I could also easily vacillate between the King's English and Ebonics. THIS is what made me “cool” despite being a proud, and now lifelong, nerd! But Mike and I were tight because we had a spiritual connection predicated upon spiritual information that most Christians didn't realize. Most importantly, we had already eradicated “the devil”; and “hell” – for us – was not a place where one burns, but a state of mind.

Mike and I were taught that Satan, the devil, the “enemy” was merely the “inner me” and thus, there was always the notion of personal responsibility. The “devil” was merely symbolic of the selfishness of man taking on demonic proportions. So there weren't three entities (or more specifically, personalities) in one's head – you, god, and the devil – only two. We were taught that these two“personalities” are “god” and YOU. Thus, the act of prayer and/or meditation consisted of internal “seeking” of an answer by way of the removal of “self” from the equation and centering on the “greater good”, if you will. It was the seeking for what we called then a “selfless” rather than “selfish” solution. All aspects of “what is good for me” was pushed so far back into the subconscious as to constitute a vague memory whereas “what is good for the whole” was brought to the center of consciousness.

[NOTE: The act of prayer and/or meditation was actually called “seeking” at the time and the most uttered mantra was, “seek your mind”, inspired by the biblical promise of “seek and ye shall find”. The removal of “self” from the equation was (is, still to them) thought to allow one a closer interaction with the “god force” within, and thus, capable of hearing the, “still, small voice” that is the sometimes dormant “god-self” that is the very breath of life within all. This is considered by Triumph to be the “proof” that there is good in us all for as long as we live; either the “god force” drives out evil/selfishness or the evil/selfishness drives out the “god force”, ultimately culminating in death.

The ultimate goal is to merge oneself into the god-self within, thus reaching “perfection” – oneness with god. This is believed (by Triumph) to have been god's plan in saying that the meek shall inherit the earth – and not heaven. The only impediment to heaven on earth is “self” – not evil nor devils, but the selfishness of man taking on demonic proportions. When this occurs, said person is in “hell”. The battle was within and not without. All men are considered capable of the most demonic as well as the most saintly things dependent only upon whether or not they controlled SELF!

Not only is there a more spiritual interpretation of the bible narrative at Triumph, there is the notion that the bible
foretells its eventual obsolescence with it's prediction that god would write his words “upon the tables of thine heart”. Thus, the bible narrative is merely a tool to get one to the ultimate force – the god within, that – is believed – will take man the rest of the way. I believe it was Psalms 82 that started with, “I have said, ye are gods and all of you are children of the most high. ….but you fall like princes.... Arise, oh god, judge the earth. For you shall inherit all nations.”]

So there was no devil; there was only the “
self-ish” part of consciousness that, unfettered, could lead to demonic proportions (and thus a “hell-ish” existence); and there was the “we-ish” part of consciousness, the “god force” if you will, that was the “breath of life” within us all. Or,... two distinct personalities: one self-ish and one we-ish. This meant that we were all capable of both the most saintly things and the most demonic things, depending on what we fed ourselves daily. Depending upon whether or not our daily musings were about we-ish or self-ish things. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”.

Now an astute reader may glean from the previous two paragraphs that I morphed from what I was originally taught... that the two parts of man's consciousness are a): selfishness and selflessness, to a more evolved designation of these two parts of consciousness as b) self-ishness and we-ishness. There are two reasons for this.

First of all, I realized that the prayerful/meditative aspect of targeting “what is good for the whole” did not involve the total sacrifice of “self” but rather an inclusion of “self” within the auspices of “whole”. Thus, I replaced the self sacrificing word “selflessness” with the self inclusion word “we-ishness”. Secondly, my study of other religions began to crystallize in my mind just how truly subjective the notions are of what constitutes good and evil. Thus, I rejected the the subjective pillars of good (or selflessness) versus evil (or selfishness) as the two definitive parts of man's consciousness in favor of the more objective pillars of me-ism versus we-ism (or even group-ism, if it's a better fit for you). And again, though me-ism at its lowest level can be a mere irritant, at its highest level, an individual can take on the most demonic proportions. Likewise, though the lower level of we-ism provides the basics of human harmony, at its highest level one may choose to completely sacrifice self interests for the good of the whole (you-ism, it can be called), and thus the individual can take on the most saintly proportions!

So some 40 years ago, Mike and I were already free of the fear of demonic possession from “outside demons” that many Christians still fear today, the superstitious need for exorcisms, and the fear of eternal torture. We were free of the superstition of an “imaginary foe” who would preside over mankind's infinity of pain in our very early adulthood! We were in agreement with other Christians that the devil had only the power given to him/her/it but not in agreement with the nature of this “enemy”. To us, this devil was mere symbolism and but to all our Christian friends – outside of Triumph's small “renegade” group – the devil was a lurking evil entity seeking to “possess” the bodies of human beings. So Mike and I tended to converse with them only along the common ground of this “entity” only having the power given to it by the individual and not on his symbolic nature, surmising that they were simply not “ready to receive” the truth.

We did tend to proclaim always that we deemed hell to be symbolic only and I constantly offered that – if I did believe that god committed any being to eternal, constant, pain and suffering – there would be no way that I would be capable of loving him! I would offer that – if he did commit such atrocities – I would most likely think at first to merely feign love out of fear. But I would never truly love him because he would be doing the unlovable! And his being all-everything and all (my thinking at the time) meant he'd know my “love” only masked my loathing, so I'd probably just “let it rip”! The only reason I've been able to maintain a love for this “essence called god” from 20 years old until I stopped believing in him some 7 or 8 years ago (or, for about 36 or 37 years) was because I didn't believe in hell nor the vicious portrayal of Jehovah/Yahweh.

So Mike and I were aware (me from age 20 and Mike some years earlier) that “demonic spirits” (spirits of greed, pride, unbridled lust, thirst for power, etc.) emanated from internal selfishness and could only “link up” with you if you provided a selfish playing field for them to germinate! Outside of that the “devil”, the enemy, the “inner me” only had “the power that you give it”! And since all “demons/demonic spirits” were conceived and nurtured within, they couldn't jump into nor possess the body of another! Have you ever been concerned about the personality of another jumping into and taking over your body? EXACTLY!

Conversely, most Christians never delve too deeply into the teachings of other religions because serious study of them implies to fellow Christians that they are seeking another “way”. The thinking is that said individuals would have doubts about Christianity, and doubts open the avenue for sin, which in turn would open them up to the clutches of the devil who would preside over their eternal castigation! But ME? The devil for me was nothing but my own selfish desires (which I had spent considerable energy keeping in check) manifesting to its fullest. I monitored myself constantly on whether or not I had made everyday decisions based upon me-ism or we-ism. My guiding principle of always seeking that which is good for the whole assured me that I would never be tempted by the “dark side”. But most Christians – by not allowing for the intense study of other theologies – tend to never discover the common threads running throughout the various god paradigms. Thus, they can't fully appreciate the fact that most theologies are mythology based – regardless of the amount of truths interspersed therein.

Now keep in mind that I was a believer when I initially started what became a half-life study of various religions. Thus, I didn't start out even to proffer the possibility that god wasn't real. Contrarily, I assumed that he was real, that there was only one god, and that he was simply known by different names and under different religious banners because of his “presentation” of himself to different peoples in different ways, owing to their various cultures.

I had adopted a pluralistic concept of religion; and not the narrow form of pluralism that only encompasses the three “Abrahamic” religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (so named because all trace their history through Abraham). I'm talking about the broader concept of pluralism that encompasses the whole of man's religious experience. My goal was to write a book on comparative religions that dealt with the commonalities within the world's religions rather than their differences. At twenty-three I had determined that the title of said book would be, “We And The Father Are One” and actually started writing it some years later.

But it was during this time period that I determined that I would read the entire Bible. I did so twice and added three quarters of the Qu'ran for good measure. My first reading of the Bible was motivated by a desire to know the lord's ways and instructions better. Having many doubts afterward, I read it a second time, but much more objectively and utilizing much more critical analysis. I had the same objective mindset when I embarked upon reading the Qu'ran, so after drudging through about three fourths of it I stopped, feeling that I already had the gist of it.

I didn't stop with study of the Abrahamic religions. I read quite a bit on Hinduism, Buddhism, Scientology, Mormonism, and Taoism – even studied a bit from a Bhagavad Gita I have, one of a group of major "sacred" books of Hinduism. I found that whereas Christians have their preposterous claims (walking on water, parting the Red Sea, Noah's Ark, Jonah in the belly of a whale, etc.), the other religions proffer questionable claims of their own.

The book of Mormon speaks mainly about two groups – the Nephites (descendants of Nephi) and Lamanites (descendants of Laman). Laman and Nephi were siblings but Laman was said to have a “dark heart” and to have rejected god's instruction. Thus his descendants were said to have dark skin to match their dark hearts. Said dark skin was considered to be a “curse from god”. At some point the Lamanites – actual adversaries of the Nephites – joined the Nephites in battle against an outside enemy of both groups. God is said to be so pleased by this that he turns the skin of the Lamanites back white, which was an indication of pureness! So, just as I wonder why any gay person would want to be a Christian, I question why a black person would want to be a Mormon.

Hindus don't actually have various gods, as many non-Hindus believe; they proffer one godhead with various personalities of godhead. [Note: Depending on who you ask either Lord Krishna, Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, or Lord Brahman is the Supreme personality of godhead. I haven't the inclination to figure that one out. Anyone able to clarify?] Thus, all their gods are one – just as Christians consider all three members of their holy trinity to be one. The difference is that they believe the personalities of godhead can, has and will in the future “appear” in the form of various human beings; so Hindu believers can always hold on to the hope of direct conversation with their god. Additionally, one could conclude that Allah is a “collaborative deity” as well since the Qu'ran – like the Bible, when the deity is supposedly speaking – uses the first person plural (“we” instead of “I”) several times throughout.

Like other religions, Hinduism too possess a “my way or the highway” mentality. A purport of the Bhagavad Gita As It Is (a purport is an explanation. Actual verses are very short; purports make up the vast majority of the book) states that there are only two types of men: devotees to Lord Krishna and demons. Another purport even claims that Jesus was a devotee of Lord Krishna; a claim similarly made by the Qu'ran when it states that Isa (Qu'ranic name used for Jesus) prostrated himself in Islam.

My rejection of the “god of Abraham” – which collectively spans the three religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, making him the god of over half of the world's population (even without Judaism, which constitutes less than 1%) – was based on study of the Bible and the Qu'ran, as well as the origins of Christianity, Islam and Judaism. My subsequent study of other theologies – Scientology, being the most obviously fictitious – led me to reject them all as fiction-based. So I rejected all gods and all theologies. Consider this: If any entity – other than god – exhibited the same qualities, or lack thereof, that god exhibits – or not – it would be clear to all that said entity was imaginary. If any entity could not be seen, touched, smelled, nor tasted – and could only be “heard” in the “channels of your mind” it would be overwhelmingly agreed upon that the abode of said entity is..... wait for it......YOUR MIND! So the question is begged: “Why not god”?

I had rejected faith in favor of evidence a few years before deciding to tell the world that I had evolved into atheism. You see, after rejecting the life paradigm that had been so integral to my being, I first sought out a discipline to replace that paradigm which embraced the tenets of humanitarianism while rejecting divine entities and scriptures as the source of said humanitarianism. I sought one that acknowledged that humanitarianism was from the wellspring of human beings and not gods. I found Humanism and then felt comfortable enough to publicly express my atheism, as it meant I could be defined as much by what I did/do believe as I would be – and forever will be – defined by what I didn't, don't, and never will again believe.

During this time I had started interacting with various atheist groups on social media and discovered that the body of nonbelievers were no more of a monolith than the body of believers. Just as the lone similarity among believers is their belief in a divine being; the lone similarity among nonbelievers is their lack of/rejection of said belief. Some are former believers and some never believed. Some prefer to bask in hedonism and others desire to change or help heal the world. And... I'm constantly at odds with many about the difference between religions and theologies. Many of them want to reject all religions, while I only wish to reject theologies.

Theologies constitute a subset of the group called religions. Thus, whereas all theologies (belief systems based on deities) are religions; not all of the recognized religions are theologies. The three religions that I know of that do not proffer a belief in a god are Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. The original Humanist Manifesto of 1933 called for the establishment of Humanism as another religion without a god – a stand I wholeheartedly agree with! But many atheists reject all religions as dogmatic regardless of their belief in a god or not – revealing a complete lack of knowledge of the meaning of the word dogma. No religion without a god proffers its principles as incontrovertibly true (a necessary element of “dogma”) because the only reason mankind tends to believe anything is incontrovertibly true is a belief that said morsels come from an all-knowing god.

Humanism seeks to provide a set of ethical, codified principles for humanity to live by that are arrived at through consensus which can also be altered via consensus – just like the U.S. Constitution. We believe all religions to have been concocted by mankind but with one glaring difference among them. Whereas religions that aren't theologies allow for philosophical, ethical, and principled expansion; theologies allow for very little expansion as they were concocted along with a lie that the religious directives come directly from an all-knowing deity. Their principles, thus, remain static regardless of how obviously wrong they prove to be at later points in time.

The proof that all theologies are concocted by man is in the proverbial pudding. All of the gods have hatred for the same things and people that the creator(s) of said gods have; all gods allow the same things that the creator(s) of said gods want to indulge in! The Abrahamic gods hate homosexuals because the creator(s) hated homosexuals. Islam allows sex and marriage to prepubescent females because the creators(s) of Islam – most likely men only – wanted sex and marriage to prepubescent females. Virtually all of the gods of all of the theologies view women as “less than” because the (probably male) creator(s) of said theologies viewed women as “less than”. Many of these gods also allowed for men to have multiple wives because.... the men who created these gods desired multiple wives. Yet none provide for women to have multiple husbands because their male creators didn't want women to have multiple husbands. The god of Mormonism determined that white skin would designate purity/closeness to god and dark skin would designate evil/detachment from god because its creator John Smith held those views. The Judaic god allow Jews to enslave all non-Jews because its Jewish creator(s) desired to enslave all non-Jews.

Now you would think that a perfect, all everything god – as all gods are depicted – would exhibit more equality in the esteem held for all members of his/her/its creation.... that he/she/it would not be a “respecter of persons” and view no one as “less than” nor anyone as “more than”. Yet the Bible, for instance, condemns male homosexuality while saying nothing on the subject of female homosexuality. But that's only because the creator(s) of Christianity didn't give a flying fig about female homosexuality. They were concerned about male homosexuality because men were needed for battle and I guess they didn't trust gay men to fight.

[Note: Speaking of “better than”, I still cringe at the preoccupation with freaking so-called “royalty”. Now even Black folk are caught up in the frenzy because a supposedly “royal” dude is set to marry mulatto female, Meghan Markle. To me “envy not the oppressor and take none of his ways” is rational, sound advice for breaking the cycle of oppression. Likewise “envy not those who tout themselves as better bred than you and take none of their ways” is rational, sound advice for those seeking to build equality-based societies. There is no freaking room for the notion of “better than”!

A man marries a woman. Seen it before. White man marries half black/half white woman. Nothing new nor spectacular. So-called “royal” white man marries a mulatto woman, bestowing some of his freaking so-called “royalty” upon her and Black folk lose their damn minds! The only way “Prince” Harry can impress me is to denounce the notion of royalty entirely. Outside of that he's still just another white man who thinks that he and his family are “better than” who has determined he would bestow upon Black folk a “line of royalty” of their own; allowing some Black folk (in Meghan Markle's “downline”) the “luxury” of touting that they, too are “better than”! I AM NOT A FREAKIN' RESPECTER OF PERSONS!!!!!!! PERIOD!!!! WE ARE ALL EQUAL!!!! PERIOD!!!!]

Once I redefined myself as an atheist and Humanist – and exposed such to the world – I was more comfortable interacting with my older, overwhelmingly believer friends as well as my newer (much sparser in number) nonbeliever friends. At this time many may have noticed me referring to the Bible as “the bible narrative” because most of my believer friends are Christians and I started phrasing my social media musings in ways that spoke both to them and to my nonbeliever friends. But in actuality I had begun to see all religious “sacred” books as mere philosophical narratives, filled with many jewels of knowledge and humanism despite the obvious flaws therein – just like many a philosophical treatise!

Things started to smooth out with my believer friends as they could see that we still valued most of the same core principles though I no longer saw said principles as the directives of a deity; but I had yet to find a “comfortable cove” within the nonbeliever community. Expressing my Humanism was easy but my atheism was still coagulating. Within atheist groups we would trash religions, but I kept that part of my social media self separate from my social media interactions with my believer friends. But then that changed when I concluded that theologies were not only man-made mythologies – they were and are mythologies that are detrimental to human harmony! This is not merely because of their sacred books' claims of divine proclamation, but because of the books' claims of what their god(s) want their followers to do! People who view these mythologies as divinely directed will never relinquish their world view because they view the “battle for souls” as a holy war in which their way is the right way. Thus, human harmony is only possible with the exposure of the mythology of theology. Why, you ask?

First of all, Christians and Muslims (which together encompasses half of the world's population) are extremely harsh to homosexuals and many members do the most horrific things to them – in the name of their god. The Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas is notorious for its gay bashing and demonstration rhetoric at the sites of funerals for homosexuals. Homophobic American pastor, Scott Lively was an integral part of the passing of the 2014 Ugandan Homosexuality Act that provides for a lifetime of imprisonment for gay people. In the lead-up to its passage, information was “leaked” to the public that the original bill – calling for the death penalty – would pass, prompting riotous killings of suspected gay persons. ISIS throws homosexuals off buildings and stone to death those who survive in the name of Allah. And while “orthodox” Christian and Muslim leaders condemn these acts, they're all unwilling to denounce the passages in their “sacred books” that condone such actions.

I understand their concern. They're concerned that admitting that certain passages are wrong/are not divinely inspired would destroy the already perpetrated
lie that the texts are sacred in their totality and the perfect word of god. They feel that this would undermine the cornerstone of their man-concocted belief systems. In reality one should think of it as not destroying the theologies, but transfiguring them. There is precedence. Thomas Jefferson, a deist, constructed “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth” – commonly referred to as the Jefferson Bible – in 1820 by cutting and pasting with a razor and glue numerous sections from the New Testament as extractions of the doctrine of Jesus. Jefferson's condensed composition is especially notable for its exclusion of all miracles by Jesus and most mentions of the supernatural, including sections of the four gospels that contain the Resurrection and most other miracles, and passages that portray Jesus as divine.

By telling truth, believers can maintain the position that early man spoke to gods who revealed preferred ways of living for mankind. They can proffer that unfortunately, the selfishness of men led them to corrupt parts of god's book(s) with their own prejudices. They can then assert that only the “spiritual eye” can sift the original intent of god from the musings of men. Finally, all spiritual leaders could gather together at an ecumenical council – after having fasted for 40 days – and construct sacred books that at least removes the obvious lies!

Just think of the lies that religious leaders could stop telling believers and that the lies believers could stop feeling obliged to listen to – a relief for all. They could remove passages that condemn homosexuals, minimize women, condone slavery, and place gods above families. Jesus could be depicted as a man who didn't intend to “set father against son....” but intended to make families stronger. He could be characterized as a man born of natural birth, with a natural father (Joseph) who “heard a calling” to be god-like, achieved such, and provided a blueprint for others to do the (non-miraculous) “great things” that he did. Mohammad could be described as a fallible, illiterate man who did receive the Qu'ran from god telepathically (leaving “god” as the only supernatural; no angels, demons, jinn) but, owing to his illiteracy and inability to do what virtually no one could – namely, memorize the entire Qu'ran – couldn't challenge the validity of the ayahs subsequently offered as sacred scripture by unscrupulous scribes. This would maintain over half of the world's mythology of theology in substance of not in form.

If it's not clear to you by now, let me categorically state that I don't give a rat's patootie about believers having an imaginary, so-called “divine” friend! That's harmless on its face. What is extremely harmful to human harmony are the things these imaginary, so-called divine friends supposedly instruct their believers to do! And I am particularly incensed with the freaking notion of killing in the name of a god or gods! Then there is also the problem of believers' imaginary foe – the devil, who comes complete with his own horde of underlings believed to have the ability to inhabit the bodies of men. Whether these “possessed souls” face death, exorcism, or death during exorcism the end result is typically brutal and mostly death. This is the reason that I morphed from atheist to anti-theist! So my stand is categorically that the objects of divisiveness and orneriness must be removed from the “sacred books”! If not, the mythology of theology has to be exposed! [For further delineation of the atrocities of the biblical god – as stated in biblical scripture – check out this Facebook “note” I offered up on January 19, 2015: The Dual (Good and Evil) Nature of “God”.]

There is a reference in the Qu'ran about the Battle of Badr – wherein god supposedly says, “think not that it was you who slew the enemy, but we who slew them with your hands”. [There's that suspicious use of the first person plural, again...] The Bible infers the same sentiment in proclaiming that the “holy spirit” “came upon” Sampson allowing him to slay many Philistines. This is the most dangerous notion in either book! The notion that a god kills using the bodies of men prompts too many deaths. Try using that lame ass excuse in any court of law virtually anywhere! Try offering as your defense that god used your body to kill the victim and thus he/she/it/they killed the victim! You will immediately realize it that falls upon deaf ears.

But overwhelmingly believers opt to defend maniacal acts their god(s) instructed followers to perpetrate in the sacred books as merely adaptive leadership and wisdom used to reign in the barbarous nature of “biblical times” man and “qu'ranic times” man. It was situational, temporary, and for “those times” only. This allows them to keep the orthodoxy (committed to spreading faith peacefully) and the fringe elements (committed to spreading faith coercively) as a cohesive whole within the body of their respective theology. The fringe groups can then be said as actually following the way of their divinely sacred writings; the specific passages can be deemed to only apply to conditions that existed then: and viability of those passages for today can be said to be predicated upon whether or not said conditions returned today. They can then opine that those conditions haven't re-aligned themselves and that the religion itself is “not at war”. The fringe groups then need only to re-calibrate current international problems as “end times” events and opine that said conditions have re-aligned themselves to recruit more fighters for god by convincing them that their religion IS at war.

The end result is marginal validity of the actions of the fringe groups, allowing them to recruit those who desire to fight for god while the orthodoxy recruit those desiring to “love” for god. The mythology of theology grows either way – the goal of both factions. It's a simple game of “good cop/bad cop”. But the followers of the "god of love/benevolence/compassion" have an uneasy and frayed alliance with the followers of the "god of punishment/glory/damnation" – who expect said followers to kill for him – within each respective theology as it is. And it is the unwillingness of believers to cast away those passages of divisiveness and orneriness – by deeming such passages as non-divinely inspired and convening an ecumenical council to correct it – that dooms over half of the world's mythology of theology to eventual extinction in both form and substance! 

If believers did “transfigure” their theologies they could could still maintain the lie (okay, I'll just play along – faith) that god(s) exist, and has/have “ordained” through human intermediaries certain laws for man to live by. As for the ecumenical councils... it is imperative that the laws they keep as “in the true spirit of god” be at the very least as fair, just, inclusive, equally applied, and as compassionate as the very best laws mankind has already enacted. Otherwise your god would come off as “less than”.... man. This Facebook note I created should provide some guidance: [Top Ten Reasons that Man's Law is Superior to God's Law].

Not only has the mythology of theology created gods that are unfair to the living – the great flood, the passover, devaluation of women, condemnation of male homosexuals, generational curses, curse of dark skin, death penalty for working on the sabbath, vengeful acts, death penalty for apostasy, etc. – they are also depicted as depraved, vengeful lunatics in their treatment of the dead! The Bible says that god will resurrect all who have died – from the beginning of time – on one specific day of judgment. After whatever period of time it takes to pronounce judgment upon these people, those deemed to be good continue to live on. Those determined to be bad are killed again. Until that day of judgment, the dead are just dead! This scenario is the only one depicted in the Bible and to me it's already cruel enough. Think about it. A supposedly all-knowing god resurrects people that he should know won't win the ultimate prize of immortality just so that this sadistic, vengeful god can go Rambo in killing a bunch of folk all over again! If ever a being – human or otherwise – was depicted as seemingly irretrievably drunk on his own damn power, this god would be the poster child!

The only indication that the dead are in heaven or hell is the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (the beggar, not the dead/undead zombie) but that's a parable – based no more on a past, present, nor future event than the parable of the mustard seed, the parable of the prodigal son, or any other parable/fable. They are stories used as “teachable moments” – that's it. The true nature of “hellfire” is “revealed” in the book of Revelations. Those brought back to life on judgment day who are not adjudicated to be worthy of their “second life” are thrown into a “lake of fire”, thereby experiencing what Revelations refers to in clear language as “the second death”. Until the resurrection on judgment day the dead are merely dead – neither in heaven nor the non-existent hell! [When you have time, here's a Facebook note added on January 18, 2018 (excerpt from a larger work) dealing extensively on what the bible says happens after death. It's quite different from what Christian ministers lie about during eulogies: On Death, Hell, and Hedging One’s Bets.]

But... early Church leadership decided to adopt the concept of hell because all of the pagan religions had some sense of it – some sense of punishment after death. My guess is that waiting for a “second death” for possibly eons after your “first death” just wasn't much of a deterrent. You'd be experiencing nothingness indefinitely, and then have the opportunity to live again. And judgment of innumerable human beings could take a very long time as well. Who knows how long you might enjoy that “second life”? It could be years! This, I'd imagine provided little deterrent.

It's also clear that going to heaven after some future resurrection from nothingness – to be dead and then given life again, replete with all memory – may have appeared to be a bit “iffy”, and thus
not as appealing of a reward. So the clergy adopted the fiction (compared to biblical teaching) of going to heaven immediately upon death. How? By both discouraging and forbidding laity from reading the bible AND forbidding the translation into other languages for laity to have access to the bible for about the first 1,000 years of Christendom – thus leaving the laity no choice but to believe the clergy's teaching on heaven and hell. Here's an interesting Huffington Post article on the matter: “Why Christians Were Denied Access to Their Bible for 1,000 Years”.

A couple of acknowledged reasons for the Church's prohibition on laity reading of the bible are: 1) concealment of the fact that the compilation of their “final draft” of the Bible eliminated competing scriptures known to exist at the time; and 2) concealment of the fact that both Jesus (the Rabbi) and his disciples were lifelong adherents to Judaism and Jewish practises and thus, had no intention of establishing a new religion. Still, keeping the “sacred book” from parishioners allowed them to devise the more
palatable fiction that the dead go immediately to heaven – an immediate instead of a future reward as depicted in the Bible! [No immediate hell equals little deterrent and no immediate heaven equals little incentive!]

To buttress this idea of an immediate reward, Paul's words were twisted to read, “to be absent from the lord, is to be present with the lord” as if one equals the other. But this is not what Paul said according to scripture but.... it was instilled in the minds of early Christians by clergy that didn't allow the laity to read it for themselves. What he said was that being absent from the body is a prerequisite for being present with the lord – just like algebra is a prerequisite for calculus, with no requirement as to how soon the “requisite” must follow the prerequisite. ...and let's face it..... no one ever implies that “to be absent from algebra is to be present with calculus”. [Doesn’t Paul say that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord?]

In truth, the only people the Bible says went directly to heaven is Jesus and the two men crucified with him. But the church invented the “absent from the body” paradigm and most likely had to explain itself once parishioners were allowed access to the Bible. This was probably when they promulgated the notion that the soul is absent from the body at death, is then with god, but has to wait for the resurrection to obtain its new, heavenly body. That sounds good but it also is contrary to scripture. Ecclesiastes 9:5 states: “…but the dead know not any thing,...” so they couldn't be “with god” embodied or not because then they wouldn't be in the condition of knowing nothing! Again, On Death, Hell, and Hedging One’s Bets goes more in depth on this matter and lists the verses in three of the four gospels wherein it is categorically stated that God is, "not the God of the dead, but of the living”.

I find it particularly odd that at every funeral I've attended the minister's eulogy always depicts the “dearly departed” as now residing in heaven and no one is ever said to be now residing in hell. But this is the flip side of the notion of the immediate reward of heaven; the very nature of this paradigm implies that the dead also must endure the immediate punishment of hell (assuming you believe in hell). And we've all had relatives (Ray Ray and 'em) who we know couldn't pass the smell test for entrance into the “pearly gates”. This would mean that Christians go about the daily routine of praising the same god who has sentenced their loved ones to eternal pain and suffering – to eternal “weeping and gnashing of teeth”. And then, these same Christians have the audacity to yell foul when I point out the atrocities of their god simply because I am too compassionate a man to ever accept that an infinite punishment is a proper sentence for a finite “crime”! Hell, even the U.S. Constitution – drafted by men – prohibits “cruel and unusual” punishment! Shouldn't a kind, loving, benevolent god be at least as compassionate as man?

[Note: I just finished (04/16/2018) watching Netflix's newly released, “Come Sunday”, a movie about Minister Carlton Pearson's ostracism by his church for preaching that there is no hell – at least not the “eternal torture kind”. I know it's just a movie but it's clearly sanctioned by him which means it's at least close to his truth. Additionally, though he's a believer and I'm not, we agree on one salient issue. We both see the Bible “not as the literal word of God but a book by men about God – primitive men prone to mistranslations, political agendas and human emotions.” ~ Carlton Pearson

After about 10 years of preaching a gospel of inclusion that holds that everyone – saint or sinner – goes to heaven, Pearson was declared a heretic by the Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops in 2004. Part of the dialogue in the movie version of that meeting went like this: 

(Pearson) “Bishop Ellis? I want to ask you something. Is there anybody you've loved in your own life? Anybody you were close to? An uncle? A brother? A friend? Who backslid and is in hell right now?” (Bishop Ellis) “This ain't about me, Bishop.” (Pearson) “It's a simple question. I'll get to the point” (Ellis) “My daddy's in hell. What about it?” (Pearson) “How do you know? I just want to understand...” (Unknown Bishop) “Bishop Pearson, we have a process.” (Pearson) “How do you know he's in hell? If you can't answer the question...” (Unknown Bishop) “Bishop Pearson...” (Pearson) “Then either you're not sure or you're afraid to answer.” (Ellis) “Because he sinned until the day he died. That's how I know.” (Pearson) “How long's he been there?” (Ellis) “Fifteen years.” (Pearson) “Fifteen years. And did you love him?” (Ellis) “ 'Course I did. He was my daddy. But he beat my mama. He beat me. He was a fornicator...” (Pearson) “And now God's punishing him. He's suffering in hell, he's tortured and tormented for all eternity. So, let me ask you something. Would you get him out of hell if you could?” (Ellis) “That ain't up to me.” (Pearson) “How about if it was? If there was a way we could negotiate with God, with Jesus and the blood, you'd get your daddy out of there as quick as you could, wouldn't you?” (Ellis) “I can't answer that.” (Pearson) “Of course you would. Anybody would. So the question we have to ask ourselves is this: Are we more merciful than god?”]

But the Christian god isn't the only one who exhibits depravity towards the dead. The Muslim god is equally vile and vicious! The Qu'ran states that – in hell – the skin of the inhabitants will burn off, replenish itself, burn off, repeat – eternally! How's that for “sadism cloaked in benevolence”. But, to be fair, there clearly is the view among some Muslim scholars that hell need not be a permanent abode. This is taken from a few ayahs that start with the, “your abode is hell” and how you will burn forever but end with, “except as thy lord pleases”. This makes the Muslim god seem at least more benevolent than the Christian god in their common cruelty toward the dead. At least he has already indicated – according to the “sacred” book – a willingness to pardon from his cruelty.... some (but no commitment. As he “pleases”. Whimsical). Conclusion: Your gods are as bloodthirsty as the imaginary “pagan” gods that preceded them and their thirst for blood burns eternally! And my love for humanity, fairness, equality, harmony, kindness, …..and love... just won't allow me to except any lesser amounts of compassion coming from a deity! Hell, he's supposed to be better than me – not worse!

The simple fact is that believers in gods want the same main thing that, 1) anti-theists and 2) Humanists (both labels are applicable) like me want: for mankind to live life more abundantly and harmoniously! We simply disagree on the optimum pathway to get there. Additionally, of the numbers of nonbelievers who care about the future of the world – and that percentage at least equals the percentage of believers who care – a much larger percentage of them (nonbelievers) are willing to DO something to effect change versus believers who have the luxury of “leaving it in god's hands”. For those nonbelievers the mantra is, if it is to be, it's up to we.

Finally, I say this to my former “companions in Christ” who continuously try to get me “back into the fold”: clearly, you never knew me as well as you thought. Let me offer the condensed version. Owing to my one-year-older sister being my only playmate, I read her first grade books like “Tip and Mitten” with her. When I arrived at Fruth Elementary the administrators wanted to put me directly into the second grade. My mother declined. Starting ahead of my class, I became a voracious reader which in turn made me question authority more than my peers. I was always taught to be respectful of authority but – starting school in 1961, two years before the March on Washington – that I should never be afraid to question authority either.

The more I read, the more I challenged all my teachers for the entirety of my academic matriculation. Entering Jr. High School my attitude towards my teachers was, “you know more than I do owing to advanced age that has allotted you more time for study. But you're no more intelligent than I”. So at a very young age questioning even god seemed rational to me. After all, I was hearing about this deity from second hand sources. And if you're accustomed to the notion of “trust but verify” from even first hand sources it seems absurd not to apply the same standard to second-hand sources.

So even though I and a part of my core group of friends – Mike Tyson, Nils Haynes, Wesley Armstead, Charles Taylor, and Robbie Robinson – sang in numerous church and community choirs throughout my teens, I didn't share the same feelings about the nature of god that they had. They had blind trust and I was merely cautiously optimistic. Because I was always unable to accept virtually anything on face value and absent the empirical evidence to back it up, it was during my late teens that I recall the only time that I was actually mad at god (though many have accused me of being angry at him now when I believe him to be fictitious).

And I wasn't angry at god because I felt he hadn't done enough for me – the reason many believers attribute to such anger. I was angry because I felt he hadn't done enough for the world. I was angry because the world around me – and I mean the international community, not just “my world” – was in such turmoil. I was told that god was all-powerful and wanted world peace and couldn't understand why such an all-everything being was such an underachiever in this area. And he even had eons to get it right! So I demanded that he take human form as he is said in the Bible to have done with Jacob so that I could whip his behind for dereliction of duty!

[Note: It's important that we also realize that the desire for world peace the Christian god (Yahweh/Jehovah/Jealous ~ see Exodus 34:14) is said to have is contradicted by the very word of Jesus who said that he, “came not to send peace, but a sword” – that he came to sow discord even among families! (Matthew 10: 34-37) And via the magic of the “holy trinity” wherein “god the holy spirit” impregnated Mary with himself (“god the son”) so that he (the son) could sacrifice himself to himself (“god the father”) for the propitiation of the sins of man, the motivations of Jesus mirror exactly the motivations of Jealous.

And specifically because of the official stand of believers is that god doesn't ensure world peace because he doesn't desire to usurp free will, I devised a plan whereby an all-everything god could ensure world peace without usurping free will. [I call is the “no weapons” law and it's explained starting at paragraph 20 in the “blasphemy article” mentioned below.]

The compassion I felt for others was also buttressed by my core group of friends that included Paul Woods, and later William Evans (who was a year ahead of us) along with my aforementioned “choir buddies”. In many ways we were vastly different, but in ways that mattered we were all in concert. One very crucial similarity was our compassion for others. We were all compassionate teens who grew into compassionate men. We never had macho feelings that prohibited hugging and frequently ended conversations with, “I love you, man”. This is an important distinction because many a man who is taught about the god paradigm still refuse to allow compassion to enter into their sphere of consciousness, believing it to be incompatible with the machismo deemed necessary to “be a man”. Thus, compassion only becomes a part of their lives after years of revelings. Then, coming to god in later years to secure their spots in heaven, they allow themselves the luxury of compassion as a prerequisite of serving god. They then have the needed excuse to be compassionate whereas we didn't need the excuse. If others felt we were “soft” because of our compassion, they were invited to “try us”! Because of my “compassion nurturing” at an early age I always critiqued god in terms of what he did for the world and not merely what I felt he might have done for me. I mean if it's true that, “he unto much is given much is required” doesn't it also follow that “he who can do more should do more”?

Oddly enough the compassion that I've always had for others hasn't always played well within the atheist community – especially relative to the compassion I've always felt for the plight of homosexuals. More than a few questioned my sexual preference because of it. I never had to explain my compassion for those “other than” to my Christian friends as we were always taught to have compassion for all people – despite the biblical prohibition against male homosexuality. Additionally, most of them already knew that I had a gay brother with whom I've always been willing to “ride or die”. And the mere fact that you are reading this means that my brother has given me prior consent to this limited discussion of his sexuality. Otherwise, it wouldn't be here as I've always felt that his secrets were simply not mine to expose.

Thus, I always allowed folk to think whatever they wanted to about my sexuality, and never exposed just how personal the issue of homosexuality was to me. As far as I was concerned there was only one group with whom pontification about my sexuality even mattered – the women I pursued. Since none of them ever got a “gay vibe” from me, I never gave a flying fig about what others thought. Their prejudices against me didn't stop me from getting sex from a lot of women, so there simply wasn't any damage done! And additionally, two years ago I found out that another family member is gay. I've talked to a few close friends about that but it wouldn't be proper to expose the identity here as I've gotten no prior consent and it's just not my “secret” to reveal.

Anyway, after my challenge of fisticuffs with god – somewhere between 16 and 18 – it became imperative that I develop a new vision of just who god was and what he represented. It was imperative because the vengeful and proud god who also warned mankind that “pride goeth before the fall”; the jealous god who decries jealousy as one of the fruits of the spirit of evil; the “repented” god who killed all of mankind save one family because of HIS design flaw; the “glorious” god who stacked the deck by hardening Pharaoh's heart and proceeded to cast all manner of afflictions upon Egypt, including the murder of the innocent first born children – to show his glory; the supposedly “fair and just” god who would institute generational curses upon the innocent; the god who told Saul – through Samuel – to kill all of the Amalekites, to include women, children and babies; this god wasn't working for me.

Hell, even I was an infinitely more moral being than Jehovah, as depicted in the “buy-bull”! How in the world was he going to lead me in any way? This creature was morally bankrupt and drunk on his own power but his flock were conditioned to believe that “might makes right” so they never questioned what I felt compelled to question. Their standard response was always, “but he's god. He can do what he wants” whereas my standard response – owing to a lifetime of questioning everything – was, “not if he expects to lead me, he can't. For me to follow, he has to exhibit at least the qualities expected of me”! To wit: I have never been a “respecter of persons”. So the acceptability of the “mysterious ways” of a god who was “right because of might” was never palatable to me. The relevance? You can't change me back into a believer who accepts blind faith when I was never that dude!

Reflecting on my “god journey”, if you will, has made me also internalize one very salient truth. Had it not been for Mike introducing me to Triumph's more metaphorical interpretation of the Bible, it's very likely that I would have become an atheist by my early twenties. As a child I was taught that god is love but the Bible depicted him as otherwise so that god I had always rejected as a teen internally but remained silent because I loved the company of “church folk”. Their god was a bully but they were loving. So initially, I didn't want to rock the boat but it became more difficult and I was on the brink of just saying, “fuck it”. But Mike used to always say – from behind that Cheshire cat grin of his – “my god is all good”, so I gave Triumph “a try”.

Over time I have come to realize that many of the people that I personally know who categorize themselves as “spiritual but not religious” were raised to believe in the Christian god, whether or not their parents were church attendees and whether or not the child's attendance was mandatory. And I have come to realize that they claim “spirituality” because they were raised to believe in an all-loving protectorate god. They reject “religion” because the sacred book they are most familiar with is the Bible and the god depicted therein is not the all-loving protectorate god who appealed to them so much.... until... they actually started reading the Bible for themselves. Ironically, their reasons for choosing “spirituality” are same reasons that I became an atheist and later an anti-theist and my suspicion is that there are many “spiritual but not religious” people who were raised in other faiths as well. Some of these people are also known as “non-practicing” (Jews, Christians, Muslims, etc.).

It is also important to note that I have always fought against seemingly insurmountable odds since I was a child. To me principles always took precedence over my associations. Unfortunately, over 90% of the world value their associations over their principles. This isn't the cause of most problems but I believe it to be the main impediment for solving the world's problems. A small percentage of police officers commit bad acts but at least half of their peers are willing to assist in a cover-up. Republicans know that Donald “Treason” Trump is bad for the country but aren't willing to impeach because party loyalty takes precedence over the good of the country. But for me, it's always been about the principle and no one gets a pass, regardless of our association. In 2008, in the run-up to the presidential election Andy Young (a Hillary Clinton supporter) made the claim that Hillary's husband Bill was "blacker than Barack" because he had slept with more black women that Barack, as if the number of black vagina's one had entered was some kind of “barometer for blackness”. So in an article on my blog I called him Andy “sell-out” Young! And he's my frat brother! But I have never been a respecter of persons and I have always valued my principles over my associations. Right is right and wrong is wrong. PERIOD!

A funny story about me and “insurmountable odds”: Though Mike and I became fast friends in high school, that wasn't always the case. We attended different junior high schools but the same elementary school for four years. I attended Fruth for the first two years and Mercer elementary from grades 3 through 6, because my family moved from downtown to uptown Charleston. In the 6th grade Mike and I fought about 15 times or so after school. He didn't like the fact that I was highly opinionated and a “know-it-all” as he put it. He would demand that I shut up, I didn't, and we would then fight from the school almost up to my home. The irony is that both of us could only recall one fight where I had gotten the best of him. That means that at least 14 times he whipped me. But it still never shut me up. It was all about the principle of free speech, and I was unwavering! Mike finally realized that I was always going to speak my peace regardless and simply gave up. We never fought again, though disagreements were plentiful. As adults we simply realized that, if we fought, we would likely never be friends again; and that friendship had come to be vitally important to us both.

Being a precocious, analytical teen, I was already accustomed to having two-sided debates within my own head. Playing “devil's advocate” allowed me to always consider the “on the other hand” side of an issue. So when Triumph offered that the “good and pure” voice was the voice of conscious and that this “voice” was the “essence of god” within one that connected him/her to god, who is a spirit itself/himself/herself, it was palatable to me. They likened it to Elijah hearing god in the “still small voice” and offered that closeness to god via steadfast adherence to his ways would make that voice stronger and louder. This was key to me because, though I believed in a god (owing to the loving god depicted my my mother and the “village” that raised me) I could only follow him if the main second-hand source I knew of at the time – the Bible – proved to be a misstatement of his true character. I desperately needed instruction from the horse's mouth, because hearsay testimony just wasn't going to cut it!

Of course once I realized that both “voices” in my head are mine I started questioning why I ever believed that the “higher me” – or what I have come to realize is nothing but the more noble side of my character – was the voice of the divine. After all, there wasn't two audible voices in my head but my own thoughts on opposite sides of a pondered matter that I heard, Bishop Pearson heard, and anyone elsehears” when meditating/praying. True, it was the more conscientious voice in my head but mine, nonetheless. And there was that creeping euphoria that always accompanied the decision to take the “path more noble” that rendered the believer more resolute in the decision arrived at. But that euphoria isn't indicative of a “holy spirit” being present; it's just a fact that doing the noble thing on a regular basis can be quite euphoric!

I can't tell you how many times I've felt this euphoria in church. As stated earlier, the god they praise may be bi-polar but the people were full of love. This is because everyone attending comes with love in their hearts and with the expectation that they will find nothing but love when they arrive. It's a virtual love fest but in reality no different from the love fest at Woodstock – minus the drugs. The church becomes a veritable cornucopia of love every Sunday morning because all the members are filled with love even before they arrive! Upon arrival, their love blends with the unbridled love of others, creating a total atmosphere of love. Where two or more are gathered in my name (love), there shall I (love) be. Put another way, where two or more are gathered in the name of love, there shall love proliferate!

You see the ones who penned the Bible and the other “sacred books” knew the power of love and tied this most powerful of forces to god. The Bible creators ingeniously declared that god IS love, an indication that there can be no love without him – that “drawing thyself nigh unto him” is the only way to have love in one's heart. Christians internalize this erroneous assessment which prompts them to utter absurdities like the one I heard in 2013 on the TV show Belle's coming from Elise Neal's character (Jill) and directed toward Richard T. Jones' character (Jack). Jack was an atheist and was professing his love to Jill, moments after he had revealed his atheism. Jill's response was, “How can you love anybody, if you don't love god?”

Love and devotion aren't the only emotion followers of gods are required to exhibit toward their respective deities. Fear of their gods is also a necessary requirement. [Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God. ~ Deuteronomy 10:20] Here are over a hundred biblical verses that attest to Yahweh's/Jehovah's fear requirement. (Fear Of The Lord) The unhealthy nature of relationships involving both fear and love was the subject of an article I wrote almost two years ago entitled, Why I Blaspheme Your God(s). And since I'm not the one to merely mention the fact of my blasphemy without reiterating the exact words I have used, the footnotes contain the actual text of the blasphemies. I put them at the very bottom because I didn't want believers to be privy to the blasphemies without first knowing the “why” the blasphemies were uttered.

The article centers on an abused woman seeking advice from a health care professional about the abuse from a man she's romantically involved with whom she professes to both fear and love. I then offer that it is simply unhealthy to love a person/being that you fear and just as unhealthy to fear the person/being that you love. One may be able to feel appreciation towards a person/being that they fear, but never true love. AND it's the type of appreciation born of the feared person's/being's status of “lesser of two evils” – like the slave who appreciates his master not being as brutal as other slave masters. 

The two feelings of love and fear are simply incongruent! This is an incontrovertible truth!Ask any health care professional about this – relative to a human being; not a god – and you get the same definitive truth I just shared with you. There may be a different response if you reveal that the “person” you speak of is “god”. Health care pros who are believers are likely to proclaim that god is an exception to an otherwise universal rule. But again, ….why not god? Isn't the “standard” aspect of a principle a necessary element of the principle even being a “principle”?

As for the blasphemies spoken of in the article, the actual reason that I have uttered them is to demonstrate the inability of the believers' god(s) to do anything to me in retribution – not to infuriate them. I only seek to reveal the impotence of the imaginary all-everything god in doing a damn thing to me, no matter what the hell I say about him/her/it! The same god who's rumored to have done all manner of atrocities to the early Egyptians just to “show his glory; who's rumored to have spoken the world into existence, is unable to shut me up! That's the “hmmm” moment I'm after.

Although the sole purpose now in my occasional utterances of blasphemy is to assist in the removal of the fear of this imaginary divine monster, my very first blasphemy towards a believer was a mere response to his proselytizing. Just like the Carlton Pearson of earlier years, most believers feel compelled to witness to me about the galooory of god in order to save me from the fiery pits of hell. I get that. But they just won't take no for an answer, prompting more extreme responses like, “the only thing your god can do for me is....(insert the most vile and vicious things you can imagine)”. I consider this to be a mere last resort for the accomplishment of effective communication.

I use the handle “Nicety1” on the internet almost as much as I use “Servant2All”. Both are important representations of my personality. The former – Nicety1 – comes from a 1989 song by R&B artist Michel'le called Nicety. The hook in the song goes, “Some people think I'm nice. Some people think I'm nasty. But if you really want to know, just ask me. And I'll say I'm nicety.” Now her point is clearly that she is both nice and nasty, whereas mine is that I can be either nice or nasty. An oft-quoted mantra of mine is that I am as nice as I am allowed to be and as nasty as I am forced to be. And since my default position is always to be nice, I'm unapologetic when nastiness is required.

See I was taught that the onus is on the communicator to make himself understood and not on his audience to understand him. Acceptance of this burden, I am told is primary pillar of effective communication. Thus, the communicator needs a working knowledge of various analogies and methodologies to accomplish his task. They need not all be benign, but the more harsh approaches are always to be last resorts. Again, if the communicator fails to get his message out, he/she hasn't effectively communicated. So I've initially been nice in telling believers that I want no part of their god(s); that I don't believe they exist; that they can have their imaginary friend and simply request that they don't ask me to play with him.

When they continue to extol the virtues both of their god(s) and of believing in them, I realize that they are driven by what they deem to be the only avenue for world peace. My understanding of that drive means that I know that they won't stop. Therefore I must make them stop. Since I know their intentions are pure, coupled with the fact that I am not a violent man, attacking their god becomes the only nonviolent action remaining. And believe me, telling a believer that the only thing their god can do for you is kiss......, suck....., and go straight...... has proven to be a 100% effective proselytizing repellent. I hate to be that cold but I'm.....nicety! 

Still, my severance of ties with Wesley Armstead has proven to be the most difficult of all. Until him, all the folk I had been forced to sever ties with after using my proselytizing repellent on them were acquaintances. I had used it on Lamont Bolland – effectively, as it achieved its purpose – but our friendship didn't suffer. Wesley was the first casualty and it hurts because he and Chuck Taylor are probably my oldest friends. But it's always proper to question the friendship of a man who refuses to accept that you have found a tao (way) different from his and who constantly points out to you that his tao is the right tao. After all when you're talking about two men past the age of sixty – provided you still respect each other as men – you allow each other your own respective taos.

But since we've been talking about effective communication, it's about time we examine the effectiveness of god's communications, assuming for the sake of argument that he/she/it is a real entity. We all know how disastrous second-hand communications can be with mankind. Each time the communique is delivered from one person's mouth it is heard differently by the listener, remembered two days later even more differently, and regurgitated the following week as an entirely different story. This is why hearsay testimony is inadmissible in a court of law. The reliability of the testimony is simply too suspect.

Now an all-everything god should be an effective communicator – at least as good as the best of men. Thus, he should realize the ineffectiveness of second-hand communications and thus communicate with his flock directly. But instead of any direct words from any “god” we've received second-hand information about god for at least well over 2,000 years. The excuses are many. “You can't see god because his glory would blind you. That's why Moses was only allowed to see his hind parts!” ('re saying that the creator of our ocular equipment doesn't know the proper setting for his galooorious brightness not to be blinding to the human eye?) “If god talked to you, his voice is so powerful, it would burst your eardrum!” (Sooo... god lacks the capacity to whisper?)

Actually, there is one account in the bible narrative I recall that says that god spoke to Moses, man heard and became scared, so presumably, god stopped talking because of the fear. Well I ain't buying that 'cause I ain't neva scared! Here's the account. During the wandering in the wilderness days, Moses invites his fellow wanderers to go to the mountain with him to hear the word of god. The people go, stand at the nether part of the mountain while Moses travels up higher. The wanderers hear two voices and assume Moses is speaking to god and god is talking back, giving him the Ten commandments. But the people refuse to listen to the rest of the laws that god gave to Moses. They said that Moses should go, hear god's message, and relay it back to them and they would follow. The reason for their apprehension? They said:

“24 ...we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth. 25 Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, then we shall die. 26 For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? 27 Go thou near, and hear all that the Lord our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it, and do it. [Deuteronomy 5: 24-27] also, [Exodus 19:10 ~ 20:19]

So this is the given reason as to why god fails the “great communicator” test! He doesn't talk directly to man (and we can only “hear” him in the “channels of our minds”) because an audible voice would scare the bejesus out of them. His voice isn't too loud; he actually can whisper; it's not that men of today are unworthy of dialogue. It's just that men who god talked to over 2,000 years ago were frightened by the act so god just KNEW that all others living after them would be afraid also so he just stopped talking to man. Now ask yourself. If you were creating a god for people to follow. You got all of the laws together and you know that people will want to consult with god directly as to the veracity of your laws. You know your god is made up so how do you deter the desire for first-hand information directly from the "creator"? You add to your sacred narrative an account of god speaking to man and man fearing that he would die from speaking to god. You show god as a caring soul who is merely honoring man's request to not hear his divine sweet voice lest he die. Brilliant!

The verdict here is this: Only a god who revealed himself to me – and the world – in ways in which we can see, hear, and touch him can convince me of his existence! None of you can! And you can't for one very important reason. I have always thought differently than you do on theological matters. My mantra has always been “trust, but verify” whereas the mantra for most of you has always merely been “trust”.

So my world went from idolizing heroes, to idolizing divine paradigms, to realizing that neither existed, to despair because neither existed, to realizing, if it is to be, it's up to we. In short, I've always been the one with a vision quest, if you will, to save the world – or at least be a viable member of the team that does. Superheroes and gods were nothing more than mechanisms for the achievement of said vision quest. Thus, I've gone from the kid who wanted to be a superhero to a teen and young adult to wanted to be one of god's league of superheroes to a middle-aged – and now, old-aged – adult who simply wants to be a regular hero!

This vision quest is ingrained within me, having reached full fruition at the tender age 20. It's a part of my DNA! I couldn't eradicate it if I tried! But my previous desires to first be a secular superhero and then a godly superhero both sprung from the exact same well as my present, readjusted, and more attainable desire to be a one of a troupe of regular heroes! My vision quest is and always has been firmly predicated on my desire for humanity to live life more abundantly and harmoniously. As a kid I imagined that superpowers would be the avenue for achievement. As a teen and young adult, I was convinced that god was the conduit. But, from middle-age I've realized that, “if it is to be, it's up to we”. Superman, SuperJesus, SuperAllah, SuperKrishna, and SuperGod, just ain't coming! That's my reality – and yes – I actively attempt to convince others of it and make no apologies for doing so!

But, sometimes I fee like my name is Howard Tubman! I mean, I'm trying to free mankind from mental slavery, but I always have to be wary of the slaves who desire to kill me and return to “Massa”. The irony in this case is that “Massa” is imaginary and thus incapable of harming me..... and my only “enemies” – some of whom would kill me, thinking it was a directive from their imaginary friend – are the very slaves I seek to free! What a kick in the head! And on that note, doesn't the bible narrative state that, “No greater love hath any man than to lay down his life for his brother”? Hell I might not be laying my life down but I certainly am risking my life to get this message out! Doesn't that count for something?

And keep in mind that this stance doesn't exactly endear me to the atheist community either. Many of them were never believers and seek ONLY to ridicule the beliefs of believers as the method of “waking them up” without offering viable alternatives. They don't have a full understanding of the believers' actual need for some guiding principles in their lives. I do. This is why I've sought to “fill the gaps” so to speak with different ways of looking at the way we view this “god”. I've offered (in the last entitled section of “On Death, Dying and Hedging One's Bets”) what I call Barrett's Wager as a replacement for Pascal's Wager wherein he offers that living life as if there is a god “hedges one's bets”. His thinking is that, if at the end of life one discovers there is no god (though how one would know is beyond me, if you're dead and know nothing) there is no loss. However, he surmises, if one finds that there is a god he's gained everything.

My “wager” is that, if there is a creator-god, he's made a choice to not communicate with mankind. He's merely created us, maybe set in place some universal laws, and left mankind to figure things out. His decision to refrain from audible instructional communication is a signal to leave him be. He's done all he's gonna do. However, all creators love their creations – songwriters, architects, etc. So our appreciation for an eremite god – who shouldn't need praise – is better spent on loving and caring for his supposed creation. If there is a god, he'll surely say, “well done”.

I've unveiled the “no weapons” law (mentioned above) wherein a “real god” could ensure world peace if he desired such. I've shown you – just as Bro. Pearson did – biblical evidence that no one goes to hell. I've tried to show the incompatibility of the emotions of fear and love within the same relationship. I've shown the more compassionate nature of man's laws versus what we are told are god's laws. And I offer Humanism as a viable alternative for guiding principles agreed upon by consensus without the facade of the “holiness” of said laws, allowing man to do better as he knows better. Most atheists don't give a rat's patootie about any of this but – like Leah Remini – I can't sit back and do nothing about the theater of fear and psychological coercion engulfing people that I love.

What would you do if tomorrow the world were presented with definitive proof that NO GOD EXISTED?!! You would then be faced with my reality: that Superman just ain't coming to save Earth! What would you do? Would you simply sulk at the problems of the world and lament, “woe are us”, or would you roll up your sleeves and get about the work of solving the seemingly impossible? Well I for one have always believed in the resilience of man. Thus, even though I believe mankind has so far detrimentally relied upon an imaginary being to “fix things”; I believe that he would resolve to fix them if he knew definitively that no other being would.

In any event, the mythology of theology cannot sustain itself as presently constructed. The “non-practicing” theologists who attempt to retain their “official” status as Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc. by identifying themselves as “spiritual but not religious” are soon likely to disassociate themselves completely from their “official religions” if changes like the one made by Bro. Carlton Pearson aren't adopted by the full theologian bodies of these religions. There will be a great “falling away” from these religions if they can't admit that the monstrous gods depicted in their “holy scriptures” are indicative of man's attempt to present god to man replete with his own biases rather than a record of god presenting himself to man. The god – as Carlton Pearson puts it – “with the anger management problem” is just never going to be palatable to most people.

In the coming weeks (or months) I'll be unveiling a paradigm to transfigure capitalism in such a way as to halt rising income disparity, reverse it, and – over time – totally eradicate poverty. I'm talking about the stuff that can catapult a brother to a Nobel Peace Prize nomination. This unveiling will incidentally put some dollars in my coffers that will in turn be used to start a Humanist community, meeting place, and executive board geared toward the establishment of Humanism as a religion. You will be privy to this new paradigm at the same time the world is exposed to it via a YouTube video. [At some point I'll even use a teleprompter to present this article as a video as well. I know full well about present-day society's preference for videos over print media.]

I truly want to thank all who dared to relive this rather lengthy account of my religious evolution. It was important to me that I take the time to effectively communicate exactly why I am an unapologetic anti-theist – though I knew that it couldn't be done quickly nor with few words. Your patience is greatly appreciated. But now – henceforth and forever more – I don't want to hear diddly about my anti-theism emanating from hate instead of the love prevalent throughout. Why? Because atheists like me hate the belief – not the believer! And because – relative to the believer – the late, great, overweight lover Heavy D shared a very important philosophical code-turned-mantra with the prized, wise, right-sized lover Howie B: “I got nuttin' but love for you, baby”!

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