Bruce Renehan

49502 Alan Avenue
Tehachapi, CA, USA 93561
renehan@lightspeed.net

In 1969 at the age of eighteen, I began attending the Worldwide Church of God. I was disfellowshipped in 1992 after challenging the paradoxical teachings of the group and authoring a book entitled Daughter of Babylon. What I learned about Christianity from more than 20 years of being in a religious cult is that cults are only crude versions of a more sanitized orthodoxy. Edmund Cohen adequately points out in his book "The Mind of The Bible Believer" that the Bible is a masterful work on brainwashing. It takes time to create the appearance of stability, like the older churches have, but the fact remains, Christian history and Christian dogma is replete with chaos because the very foundation upon which they are built is the very essence of confusion and contradiction. That foundation is the Bible, an anthology of books that generally represent an array of beliefs of two distinct religious groups, Judaism and Christianity. Both claiming the writings belong to their religions exclusively and that the SAME God has rejected the followers of the opposing view. This is a God who claims he "never changes" but can be seen to change from legalistic patriarch who requires blood sacrifices and fought wars for his followers to benevolent Father who often betrayed his children so they could have their faith tested as martyrs.

The ministers of the WCG were forever trying to piece together the patchwork of inconsistency of their Bible based doctrines into a whole body of knowledge that stuck them between Judaism and Christianity. And, it actually worked for a while. But, eventually they learned that all roads led to Rome and stopped trying to re-invent the wheel. They embraced the orthodox view, whatever that is.

But, this is not meant to be diatribe of the nonsequiturs found in the Bible. Scholars have been doing that for centuries. To paraphrase James Baldwin, once I came to see the Bible for what it is, the next challenge for me was whether or not to believe in the invisible God aside from scriptural revelation. And I came to see that logic and rational thought eventually erodes God’s existence away. The arguments are far too numerous to list here. There is Ludwig Feurbach’s insight that God is strictly bound to one’s own hermeneutics and thus having a God concept is oxymoronic. Then there is the logical conclusion of Bernard Spinoza that since infinity is indivisible by finitude, we cannot possibly exist if the infinite God does nor could God have created a finite universe. So the very concept of God is self-defeating and illogical and although I concede, could be possible (I can’t figure out what the universe is contained in either) but is an exercise in futility for the finite mind–ANY finite mind.

Now I realize that the first argument one will counter with is what is known as Pascal’s wager: that is, just in case there really is a God, it would be a good idea to believe in him. Pascal was a pretty smart guy and all but that’s really a lame argument if you think about it. If my not believing in him makes God not like me, than I guess God’s a rather petty and fickle person. You see, he’s never introduced himself to me and I can’t believe the paradoxical Judeo-Christian Bible is REALLY something that an omniscient God inspired. If I believe in him just in case then isn’t my motive rather selfish? I’m claiming to like someone I’ve never met and can’t even prove exists just so I can live for ever in Paradise or escape the flames of Hell.

For a while I let the "just in case" rule be the excuse for me to be an agnostic but eventually I felt I had to either be consistent and be a believer or nonbeliever rather than a just-in-caser. So, I asked myself, "Okay, let’s say there is some type of divinity or creator out there? What does that mean to me?" Well the fact that this Great One chooses anonymity seems to imply that It is NOT trying to get fame or worship or to have us believing in Its existence. Maybe believing in something that you can’t conceive of is a type of blasphemy or idolatry or insult. Think about it. I know I certainly don’t like to be misunderstood. Does God like to be misunderstood? What if I believe that God looks like Charlton Heston but in reality God bears a strong resemblance to Mother Theresa or Yoda? I’ve still wasted my time trying to believe something that is not really the case. And, I’ve not really believed in God even though I gave it my best effort.

Now if God created everything, that’s pretty impressive and that presents another problem. It’s a concept that Clarence Darrow wrote about–the ant hill concept. How do we compare to God if God is so great? Is the difference between us and God greater than that of humans and ants? I think any rational person would conclude that the difference is vastly greater than that. Now really, how much time do you want to spend with ants? When you see an ant hill do you spend any time at all pondering which ant is the most virtuous? Do you care if any of the ants believe that you exist or don’t believe in you at all? Why should we flatter ourselves that God even ponders the greatest thoughts of humans? Darrow concludes, I think rightfully so, that the less you have in common with something the less interested you are in it. And so, I conclude that it is better to be humble and not believe that this superior being cares in the slightest what humans think or believe. That is why atheism makes more sense to me than any other system of belief.

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