I was raised Roman Catholic. My mother was from a religiously strict Irish Catholic upbringing and believed most of the literal translation of the Bible. Offenses and even atrocities committed by the Catholic Church were ignored in my family. Any questions about religion that included the words “how do we know” were answered by “you have to have faith.” So, that was it. It became intellectually easy to dismiss any question with the “faith” answer. As I grew older, I gained an interest in science, especially physics. I wanted the answers, the answers to how and why about everything!
On my first day in high school, my physics teacher described physics as “an explanation of how everything behaves.” This view was the exact opposite of the one taught to me in church and in Sunday school. How was I supposed to be intellectually honest if I simply accepted the F-word as an answer? That’s where the two worlds of my youth collided. You have to have faith versus an explanation of how everything behaves. In that moment the word faith, used as an answer, vanished from my vocabulary. I realized that faith is a deflection of the most fundamental questions in life. It was a way of telling me not to think and learn. And when you give up the desire to think and learn you are easily controlled. This is a classic technique used in cults in order to convert cultist followers. With faith you can be told and convinced of anything. At that point you are helpless. There are many ironies throughout organized religion but none more controlling than the “have faith” argument. The irony is: if we are made as thinking beings by a perfect being, then we should never ignore such a gift in favor of the ignorance required by organized religion.
To do so would be acting against the wishes of the perfect being.
What luck for rulers, that men do not think.
Many of the stories in the Bible gave me a great deal of concern. Most of my concern was about how gullible the people that believed the stories were. I once asked about the Adam and Eve story. My dad said it was nonsense. My mom quickly said that she believed the story and did so quickly, as if to move past the absurdity. So one day I asked, “If the Adam and Eve story is true then does God approve of incest?” Horrified, my mother asked what on earth I meant.
I said, “If the story is true, then in order for more people to be born their kids must have had sex. And if it was Gods plan then he must approve of incest.” What followed was the most egregious invocation of the “God works in mysterious ways” clause that was ever spoken.
I received my first Communion at the age of eight. It was a confusing ritual. I had to go to confession on Saturday (at which I had to make things up because no one would ever believe that I was that boring) and then on Sunday I had to eat a cookie that was dipped in wine. The priest said “body of Christ, blood of Christ.” My mother believed that this literally transformed the Eucharist (aka cookie) and wine into the body and blood of Christ. This concept is known as transubstantiation. So I thought to myself, “That’s what cannibals do.” If we’re eating flesh and blood then we’re cannibals too. When confronted with this reasoning my mother had an epiphany.
“Well maybe it’s just symbolic of the body and blood of Christ.” To which I replied, “Oh, so we’re pretending to be cannibals”…”Go to bed.”
As I sat in church on Sunday mornings I took particular note of the many rituals that seemed very similar to what we had been taught was nonsense when speaking of pagan religions or cults. We had incense to drive out demons, we were splashed with holy water (once again to drive out demons), and we confessed our sins on Saturday so that we could be pure enough to eat a cookie and have a little wine on Sunday. (Once again the transubstantiation ritual.)
Any violation of the above could land my soul directly in hell, or at the least in purgatory. This was an odd notion that conflicted with the definition of an all-loving god. We also had chants and prayers that we had to say together. This was particularly ironic and confusing. I learned later in life that in one of the gospels Jesus said not to pray in public, your prayers were supposed to be between you and God. But that wouldn’t be in keeping with the cult theme that we had going on in my religion. At least we didn’t have ritual sacrifice any more. Not if you don’t count the one about Jesus being sacrificed to atone for the sins of man.
So, almost entirely on my own, I concluded that Christianity is a polytheistic religion that utilizes cultist techniques to poison humanity against other religions, yet uses the pagan rituals and symbols of those same religions. I think I’ll send this definition in to Merriam Webster and see if it makes the next edition.
Despite the obvious contradictions and absurdities within the religion, and despite my understanding that I had been misled and blatantly lied to, I still believed that Jesus was a real man that died for our sins. Why was I still clinging to this thread of hope? I now understand that it was because I didn’t have the all-crucial verifiable facts.
In August 2008 all of that changed. I saw a movie called “Zeitgeist”; I had heard that it was a fascinating documentary on the origins of organized religion. I watched with a skeptical mindset. At that time I still believed that the Jesus story was to some degree valid. About 20 minutes into the show I turned to my wife and said “Holy Shit.” Her eyes were as big as silver dollars as I’m sure mine were. It was at that moment that I realized the truth. The puzzle of organized religion that, for me, had so many missing pieces was finally starting to take shape. I finally understood why I had so many questions regarding my religion. I realized that not only was Christianity a fraudulent work of fiction, but that all of organized religion is nothing more than the fraud of the ages.
Stay tuned for Part 2.
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