I know this may sound rather a strong message, but I beg you to read on and understand on what basis my opinion is founded.
All what comes next refers to my personal experience with Italian Catholic Church and I am not talking about particular people - I know there are good priests and everything; I’m talking about tendencies and general behaviours. In spite of this, I am persuaded that the same words could apply for (almost) every religion on Earth.
NOTE: most of the following thoughts were elaborated by me during the last year, thanks to a very convinced Catholic girl who had the patience to discuss with me and other people for a very long time (you can find the discussion here). Although I still despise her way of thinking for many reasons, I am happy she gave me the chance to elaborate more accurate opinions on this topic.
I will from now on assume that the reader knows the Bible and is aware of the facts I am referring to. Otherwise, I am available for providing evidence to my assertions.
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1. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS
– For starters, I think that the Church has always taken advantage of its spiritual power and influence to mind his own business, and that in most cases it does not care what religion is really about. Since it’s been born the Church does not reflect Christian values, but only sets rules, formalities and clichés which take people’s attention away from the most important thing Jesus ever talked about: love.
– Just think of the idolatry feeling of spending all that money in gorgeous cathedrals and luxurious suits for bishops and the pope instead of using it for some social issue: Church looks more like a corporation than like a religious institution. Some years ago my parish priest was so happy that something like 80.000 € had been collected in order to redecorate the floor of his cathedral. He’s a good person and I don’t see him as greedy at all. But all I could think was: do we really need a 80.000 € floor to praise the Lord? Is that what He wants from us? I don’t really think so.
– In most cases, belonging to a majority leads to intolerance. The Catholic Church has always been a great example of this: which is ironical, if we consider that Christianity should be the religion of love; and yet grotesque, if we keep in mind that people who professed their Christianity were persecuted by the Romans in the first place. The different is always pointed at and despised: in Italy, and primarily in the South, people are often surprised, or even disappointed, when they find out you are an Atheist.
(Say nothing of how homosexual people are treated – and I am not only talking of homophobia: simple gay-unfriendliness is food for homophobes. I do not want to make this the place for this topic, but this be clear: before Christian morality took over, homosexuality was much more accepted than today. In many cultures, among which the Greek one, it was perfectly normal to be bisexual and the homosexual act was considered an initiation to adulthood. People did not suffer from social pressure as much as nowadays, because the concept of unnatural was not widespread at all.
Speaking of which, let me add one last thing: since God said «Go forth and multiply», isn’t chastity against Natural Law? I have been answered that priests and nuns do not marry so that «they can dedicate more energy to the spiritual, instead of juggling two tasks at a time». Which makes no sense at all, since everybody in the world is able to have a family and a job. Still, it is their own choice; but how can they talk about family when they do not have one? How can they judge on abortion when they have no uterus – or have never used it?)
– This is what I despise of Christianity – and religion in general: the arrogance and the self-righteousness of judging the others’ choices, using a supposed divine authority instead of moral and intellectual skills to provide themselves authority (see Papal infallibility).
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2. TALKING THEOLOGICAL
– I strongly doubt there can be one single, unambiguous truth; in that case either, nobody is in the position to claim its ownership or profound knowledge. The history of mankind has been demonstrating all over the ages that theories can be proved wrong, certainties corrected, and beliefs denied.
« Man in his arrogance thinks himself a great work worthy the interposition of a deity. More humble and I think truer to consider him created from animals. »
— Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, 1871
– Thousands of years ago, mankind could not explain simple natural events such as fire or earthquakes. Therefore gods were first invented: out of pure fear and ignorance - which is, by the way, what gods have always been made of, at their very core. This means that we only have to wait some centuries (or millenniums) before Science gets to explain things we cannot understand today, scientists find new problems to solve, and History makes fun of the Bible just like we make fun of the Greek divinities.
« The existence of a world without God seems to me less absurd than the presence of a God, existing in all his perfection, creating an imperfect man in order to make him run the risk of Hell. »
— Armand Salacrou, Certitudes et incertitudes, 1943
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3. ON THE BIBLE: A PHILOLOGICAL APPROACH
– The Bible is historically and philologically an ensemble of writings by various men who were not inspired by God, yet by the social and cultural conventions of the time. That is why its moral system does not apply to us any more: society changes. If the Bible were really inspired by God, its content should be absolute and beyond any social variation.
– On the contrary, it is fulfilled with some horrendous episodes, such as those of Sodom and Gomorrah, and although it clearly forbids homosexuality, eating seafood and mixing fabrics, it finds morally acceptable rape, slavery, wife repudiation, homicide, incest, slaughter and other amenities. The God described in the Bible is unmerciful, vengeful and prone to anger.
– Christianity buds from the ethic and moral conventions of the Jewish people. The main purpose at the time was to justify the Judaic expansionism, hence a lot of episodes and statements of self-styled divine authority which stand against the neighbouring populations. On the other hand, Hebraism has always been based on the prohibition to waste semen, and on the obligation to multiply the species. That is because the number of the Jewish had to rise in order to make them greater in number compared to the surrounding people.
– Although these basis should be enough to consider the Bible philologically and historically unreliable (or, at least, not a solid and trustworthy ground for any scale of values), we also have to consider the tough road this book had to go through. The Bible has been translated, transposed, and revised several times: therefore, not only it contains a lot of translation mistakes (many of them already unveiled, a lot more still to be found), but it has also been modified in its contents to please the economic or political interests of powerful men from different ages. That is why, for example, only four – discordant, what’s more – Gospels are now canonical, whereas many other have been arbitrarily refused. See the Council of Nicea or the Council of Trento for some instances.
« The Bible as we have it contains elements that are scientifically incorrect or even morally repugnant. No amount of ‘explaining away’ can convince us that such passages are the product of Divine Wisdom. »
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4. EVERYDAY LIFE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FAITH AND RESPECT
I do respect people who have faith. It is when your relationship with God crosses the frontiers of your backyard and starts horning in mine, that I consider that faith offending. By this I am talking about:
- all of the prejudices against non-Catholic people;
- discrimination against homosexual people and their lifestyle;
- the economic power of the Catholic Church, which goes far beyond the above-mentioned backyard and which I consider a spit in the poverty’s face;
- the consequent political influence owned by the Catholic Church, which is a contradiction itself since secular and spiritual authorities should never be mixed (both for the good of politics and for that of religion, I dare to say);
- the brake constantly put on social and scientific advance;
- a general arrogance in deliberately and self-righteously establishing what is right and what is not;
- therefore, deciding what other people, no matter if they belong to your same religion or not, are allowed or forbidden to do (i.e. homosexual marriage, abortion, divorce, etc).
And this to you, believers: please, avoid just repeating I-respect-non-believers-by-letting-them-sink-in-their-vices. My definition of respect does not include a strained tolerance of some lifestyle you define vice. If I fall in love with a person of my same sex, I find it very offending if you call my feeling a vice.
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5. FREQUENTLY (?) ASKED QUESTIONS
God can’t be disproven, can He?
Of course He can’t. Just like aliens, fairies, the Fellowship of the Ring or any other being which has the cleverness to invent itself as transcendental.
To not believe in God is only our current philosophical trend, followed by the human herd of cattle that is the majority.
Philosophical trend, you say?
Yup, ask Galileo how trendy he was. Ask Cecco d’Ascoli how fashionable the pyre felt. Ask all those people who are still discriminated because they are not Catholic, or because their lifestyle does not follow the Catholic model.
Why do you hate Church so much?
I do not hate Church because it is enjoyable, or fashionable, or easier. I hate Church because of its negative influence on pretty much every aspect of everything. As I stated before, I respect those who believe, because everyone is free to make his/her own choices, but still, I can’t help considering any form of faith in any form of god a boyish way to find answers which cannot be reached otherwise. As great Italian astrophysicist Margherita Hack once said, «God acts as a great stopgap».
Okay, but what about the Intelligent Designer?
Here we come. I can understand people who believe in an indefinite something which gave birth to the universe; in fact, scientific research has hypothesised the existence of the Higgs boson, also called “God particle” because of its conjectural role in the formation of the universe. What I find childish and juvenile is believing in an anthropomorphic God who dwells in Heaven, shows himself in some ways, and dictates rules and codes which, as chance would have it, apply to the then culture and not to the present one – i.e. scientific contradictions such as Creationism, the above mentioned prohibition to waste semen, other bans such as that of eating seafood or wearing particular clothes, and so on. This could even be a Designer, but lacking the attribute of Intelligence. Rather than that, this model of God only looks like a humanisation of moral, ethical and ontological needs of a primitive culture. Just like the Olympus, by the way.
« I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours. »— Stephen Henry Roberts
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In summary, I do not hate God himself: I despise what “His” Church made of him, and how it deliberately used it as a justifications for any kind of atrocities and bigotry all along the ages.
Neither I hate Church because of its people, but because of its behaviour patterns. Intolerance, indoctrination, ostentation of opulence, pagan-like idolatry, self-righteousness, hypocrisy, over-sized political power, moral authoritarianism – those are traits I cannot justify in an institution which claims itself the Assembly of God. It is a degeneration, an association of which Jesus himself would be ashamed of.
- Knajfer Wintermere
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(I would love you to share your opinions with me.
Ask me anything you want to share, I will be glad to start a debate on this topic or to answer any question.)