My favorite quote (by me) is "You don't have to believe in god to believe in goodness."
K C Silverwood
In fact, many of us can cite examples of a belief in god and some "holy" text running counter to goodness.
I was raised a fundamentalist christian. Even so, I could not bring myself to believe that god was wrathful or that the various injunctions to women to take a back seat to men had anything more to do than with men's own desire to dominate. I did believe in a god at the time; a benevolent god versus a rigid god who exercised punishment against the disobedient. I placed a higher value on such virtues as mercy, tolerance, and equality than on the supposed virtue of obedience to a wrathful god who set arbitrary and often unfair rules. At the time, I believed in original sin and our need for redemption from our own natures. I believed that Jesus could redeem.
In my late teens and early twenties, I became more of the "obedience above all" believer in a bipolar good/wrathful god. I became more typically fundamentalist. At one point in my life, I was a Reagan-voting, conservative wife in a traditional heterosexual relationship.
It wasn't long before I came to my senses. I saw really angry, hypocritical, two-faced people claiming to have a direct channel of communication with the divine. I slowly reverted to my previous beliefs about god with a lot of wavering between liberal christianity and downtight fundamentalism in the interim.
The turning point came when I joined the Army. Removed from my previous hothouse environment, I saw raw examples of suffering, of the depraved prospering and the innocent being punished. This laid down a serious challenge to my previous belief in a just and omnibenevolent god. In time, I ceased to pray as I began to regard it as an exercise in futility. Humanity appeared to have much more influence than any divine figure. I grew to regard god as either unjust or essentially flawed. I ceased to have much regard for the divine.
For many years following my military service, I waivered between being an agnostic and an atheist; never quite able to make the full commitment in denying the existence of a godhead.
When I went to college, I started to open my mind to other viewpoints. I began to see what a sham religion was and how it so often translated directly into injustice. The slave mentality slowly melted away and I wanted nothing more than to be free in thought and action. Even so, I did continue to believe in the rightness of liberal values and used them to measure the difference between right and wrong. I continue to cling to these values as a guide for ethical behavior. By the time I graduated from college in 1995, I was a full-fledged liberal and agnostic. I saw (and see) religion as good only insofar as it tends toward liberal values. I realize some people are too weak, sheltered and needy to give up their belief in the big Santa Claus in the sky. It takes a bigger person to own full responsibility for their own actions and to stop needing a savior figure.
Almost a decade passed before I entertained the option of atheism seriously. One day, I decided to become more informed and I bought a book simply entitled "What Is Atheism?" This work helped to dispel many of my long held beliefs about atheism and religion, particularly christianity. It exposed the atrocities of the bible and the bogus nature of arguments defending christian belief. It was at the point that I became truly repulsed by religion, resented the many years and opportunities I lost to it, and became intellectually and emotionally free. I have sent a copy of this book to my intellectually curious oldest brother. It'll be interesting what he thinks about it.
Peace and Justice,
-kc of the silverwood-
From the officers:
The ACA Lecture Series continues Sunday, March 8th at 12:15pm at the Austin History Center, 9th and Guadalupe. The building opens at noon. Ryan Bell will talk on "My Year Without God: Now a Permanent Condition."