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Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Belief in unbelief ...

Am I alone, I wonder, in finding the torrent of abuse directed at religion currently popping up everywhere, offensive? Facebook seems, at present, to be full of people taking snide, and often ill-informed, swipes at believers. Atheism is now become the "cool" and "clever" position to occupy.

It seems to me to be, at least in part, a result of the failure of Christianity in all its forms to engage and confront those who spread the lies and the anti-religious propaganda. It must also be said that there is a a lot of ammunition provided by the fundamentalists who insist in perpetuating the teaching that the creation must be taken literally from the first chapter of Genesis. (Islam has a similar wing and adherents who insist that the opening lines of the Quran describe the same event in virtually the same words!) Of course young people don't fall for this, they are intelligent and have been taught to think about things. They are surrounded by science and scientific discoveries which tell them that the creation is a much more complex event or series of events than the Genesis story admits. Yet that, in itself, is an oversimplification because if Genesis isn't taken literally, it actually supports the whole Big Bang and Evolution right down to the rise of humanity.

The fact that someone chooses NOT to accept a religious belief or teaching is not what bothers me most. I am most disturbed by the fact that it is now fashionable, indeed considered clever, to mock everyone who does believe. In fact if you can find something insulting or inflammatory to say to someone who dares to profess a religious belief, so much the better. Scientists who dare to confess religious beliefs are immediately labelled as "nutters" whose work is to be ridiculed and barred from publication because their "faith" makes them suspect. Medical staff who profess Christian beliefs are barred from NHS hospitals, or disciplined for "offending" some non-believer, but someone can post really offensive comments about someone's or some group's faith and that's all right. Posters can be displayed such as "This is a Faith Free Zone" in a workplace and it is considered a "personal statement" but putting up a religious poster is "offensive."

Yes, there are some extremely sick people out there calling themselves Muslim, Christian or whatever, but they do not and never have represented mainstream religion. But that is exactly what the Atheism promoters are trying to convey as "typical" religious behaviour. Thus Witch Burnings in Africa, the crucifixion of a cat (also in Africa), suicide bombers from Islam and the sexual abuses of some Roman Catholic clergy have become "typical examples of why religion must be suppressed."

I believe in God for a number of reasons, not least being that I can cite occasions when He has intervened in my life, usually when I was not expecting it or beyond the point of saving myself from a situation. I also believe because, as someone trained in investigations, I find the New Testament accounts of events believable, particularly the accounts of the Resurrection and the empty tomb. To actually understand what the witnesses are saying about that you need to talk to a Jew, because there are little details in the text that no Westerner will get unless they know Jewish custom and practice. No I don't believe in instant answers to everything from prayer, but I do believe that prayer is answered.

Over the years my faith has grown, changed, matured. The more I study history, the more sense the Bible makes in certain places - even down to the current attacks by the atheist horde. What concerns me is that our children are being fed a diet of false history (Religion is the cause of all wars. Christians supported slavery. The Roman Catholics murdered "millions" of native American Indians in pursuit of gold...) and a strongly anti-Bible, anti-faith message in schools. Religious leaders are swiftly accused of "brain-washing" if they attempt to present a truer picture of their faith, but the atheist community is allowed to brainwash away without a murmur. All, presumably, in the name of "enlightenment."

The truth is that, while religion certainly followed the explorers, there were frequently clashes and confrontations between the "free traders" and the Church in all its forms as the churchmen tried to stop the abuses. It was avowed Christians who finally succeeded in outlawing slavery, not atheists. It is ironic that the story has been twisted on its head and the true accounts, which are available, are never ever shown or mentioned.

I will continue to practice my faith and I will continue to proclaim it. I will also continue to pray for the enlightenment of my children, my friends (where they don't share my faith) and all those who are lead by their gullibility to declare such nonsense as "God is an Atheist." When I first committed myself to faith in God, aged 15, I never expected to be ridiculed or to perhaps suffer for it. I begin to think I may have to take that last on board before very much longer.

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