Think for yourself. That’s the most basic and powerful advice I could ever give anyone struggling with the claims of their fellow humans and what you should really believe is true. How susceptible are you to believing that fiction is truth? What childhood beliefs are you still holding onto because you haven’t critically examined them with your adult mind?
This is in response to a blog post concerning Freedom and Law. Maria wrote:
“Freedom” is a cherished concept in America… …In our contemporary culture, freedom has become “freedom from,” or what used to be called licentiousness. The emphasis now is on each person being free from constraints to do whatever they desire. Usually, there is the caveat that whatever we do, we should not infringe on others’ freedom or welfare. This would suggest that freedom and law (which constrains our choices) would be in opposition to one another. I think this is misleading.
True freedom comes only in the context of embracing obedience to God’s law. Did you react to that statement? I imagine that this is a surprising, if not shocking, idea. However, consider this: Human beings tried for hundreds of years to figure out how to fly like birds. For hundreds of years, we failed to fly. It was only after we discovered and obeyed the laws of aerodynamics that we became free to fly all over the planet.
Yes, I reacted rather negatively to the oxymoron that true freedom comes only in the context of a supreme dictator that is God’s law. It’s ironic that she chose a scientific principle like aerodynamics to demonstrate truth and couldn’t rely on prayer, faith, or belief as the context for our ability to fly.
For example, it has become exceedingly common for couples to live together before marriage. This is often rationalized as “we need to see if we are compatible.” God says we should not live together before marriage. Turns out, God is right: high quality research has shown over and over again that living together before marriage increases the risk of divorce, affairs, domestic violence, etc. So in this case, if you follow God’s instructions, you are less likely to experience these outcomes.
Turns out, the primitive humans that wrote about not living together before marriage have no greater authority over the subject than any other societal view. I can quote from Christian sources that cite government surveys to say that as cohabitation has grown it is no longer correlated to divorce rates. The correlation to divorce rates could also have been attributable to the fact that the type of people that wait to live together might be more likely to stay in unhappy marriages because they view divorce as contrary to God’s law.
That, in a nutshell, is my approach. Whenever I am confronted with a decision to make about how I will live, I ask “What is God’s intention?” I turn to the Bible, God’s little flight manual, and I see what God has to say on the subject. If it is not addressed directly, I look for the principles God has provided that are relevant to the question. And then I am free to live my life to its fullest potential, and that is very satisfying indeed.
Yes, it’s an approach and some people are happy running their lives with confusing fairy tales from our primitive ancestors. They fill in the gaps, conflicts, and confusion with their own principles that they then claim are clear biblical principles. I challenge Maria to write out some clear principles for modern society, particularly political principles, and see if all other bible believers believe she has it right. If it worked without dispute then I could agree that the bible has enduring principles. I’m not even going to argue if those principles are worthy of following or not, since it can clearly be questioned if there are clear and enduring principles in there to even discuss consistently.
What do we do without God’s law? Are freedom and law in opposition? We have human law and it depends on which societies we live in as to what that means. Freedoms may be in opposition and we should work together to always improve human laws to balance our freedoms with our restrictions. We shouldn’t infringe on others’ freedom or welfare without a justifiable reason in the interest of the public good. There are basic examples such as speed limits for public safety, food inspectors, etc.
This was a typical article that seeks to say that we would be worse off and possibly in complete chaos without God’s law when that’s the furthest from the truth. We already have a much better system of human laws that can be changed and hopefully improved over time since the laws of the time of the bible. It’s not a guarantee that we improve but at least the laws we create clearly identify the human needs in them with the motivations and benefits for having the law. “God says so” is as meaningful as us saying “because I said so” to our own children. I’ve done much better in teaching morality with human rules and laws with their human reasons for following them.
When you are wondering if you should or should not do something, actually think about who it might impact and the real ramifications if everyone did or didn’t do the very same thing at the same time across the world. That simple thought exercise will guide you much more clearly than most anything written in the bible.
Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds opinions should be formed on the basis of logic, reason, and science instead of authority, tradition, or other dogmas. Regarding religion, freethinkers hold that there is insufficient evidence to support the existence of supernatural phenomena. This freedom of thought is vital to being free from the authority of people that claim to speak for the first cause of the universe. Such authority may sound legitimate, but so might the authority of a pedophile coming up to a child saying their father sent him to pick them up. The unsuspecting child might do what this person says because they think they have the authority of their father, even though the pedophile doesn’t know their father at all. If the authority of the first cause of the universe were truly legitimate, then I firmly believe we would never hear a single disgusting news story about a pedophile religious leader. Human authorities don’t tolerate such behavior, so why would the legitimate first cause of the universe allow such a person to speak for them?
Think: What authority does any being have over us if we are independent individuals with our own existence?
I only know with certainty that my parents created me and they no longer have any authority over me as an independent adult unless I choose to follow their requests. The only authority over our being is the authorities we allow, such as allowing the authority of a good and just society since it’s in our best interest to allow their authority within reason. No authority is absolute and unquestionable even when we choose to allow an authority to govern our actions. We should live our lives with the same freedom of thought and freedom of will that we have from our parents after we’ve grown up and moved away from their support. This type of freethought and freedom of existence is the true nature of human existence.
Some religions claim a creator of the universe gave us the gift our existence along with a free will to decide how we live our lives. This is despite the fact that an omnipotent being would have power over everything and would already know all of our choices. Free will is only an illusion based on our lack of omnipotence if there is an omnipotent being that knows it all. Alternatively, the first cause of the universe could lack omnipotence and only created the environment that led to our existence. That type of first cause may not know or care that we developed in this little corner of the universe. We would have free will from such a creator because it didn’t directly create us.
Yet, religious people come to us like the pedophile to the child to tell us our father sent them. They want to tell us how we must live according to our father. I’m certain they don’t actually know any of my fathers and I do possess freedom in my existence. If I’m wrong, and there actually is an omnipotent and omniscient first cause for the universe, then it doesn’t matter what I think about anything. An omniscient being already knows all of time so all of our thoughts are predetermined and believing only time can tell us what will come is only an illusion. If there is an omnipotent being then it controls and sets everything into being to produce the very moment that I think this. I actually think this is not true or the omnipotent and omniscient being that caused my existence made me think this is not true. In which case, an omnipotent first cause created all unbelievers.
This is an excellent celebration of human life as it exists in the cosmos from someone that woke up from the fantasy that shrouded the mind of a religious believer.
Recently, I’ve been wrestling with the perplexing realization that since leaving the Christian faith, I see the planet around me and the vast universe in which it moves with a far greater sense of awe and majesty than I ever perceived it as a believer. I took an informal poll of friends whose life-trajectories matched my own, and found that every one of them felt exactly the same way. For myself, and for many of the deconverted, the awe we feel now, having left the faith, is far greater, far more wondrous, far more intoxicating and euphoric than anything we ever felt as believers. But why?