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theBEattitude

 

the Sikh Centre

http://thebeattitude.com/2009/05/28/losing-my-religion-why-i-walked-away-from-christianity/#comments

 

For those wondering, here is a condensed “Top 20 List” of the things that led to my rejection of Christianity.

Here is a Sikh perpsective (an insider’s view) on the “20 list”. I am happy to debate any of the points as long as it is done in an impersonal and respectful manner.

1

God is wrathful, jealous, hateful, and kills nations of people like it is a bodily function. He is certainly not just or “holy” in nature.

God is a power not a person. That above whom and whose equal is none is God. Thus, there is only One God, who may be called by any name. Above all God is the True Teacher for all knowledge is Hir creation. The laws that govern this creation SHe has created.

2

The act of throwing people into infinite torture and punishment for not believing a Jewish guy from 2,000 years ago was God’s son, or unknowingly worshiping the wrong god, is extremely cruel and sadistic.

God does not punish. SHe has created all the possible causes and all possible effects. What we sow, we reap. My prayer isn’t going to make the poison ivy I sowed bear grapes. SHe has also given us the wisdom to identify what seed we sow. SHe has given us the free will to choose the seed. Once the seed is sown, we have no control over the fruit.

3

The statements, “God works in mysterious ways,” or “It will all make sense in heaven,” are little more than irrational cop outs. This God allows horrible atrocities to be committed against innocent men, women and children every day.

What happened before we were born or what may happen after we die is a fruitless pursuit — unknowable. Anything an individual says on these two points is as true or as false as everything that has been said in time gone or may be said in time to come. The pursuit of life is defined by understanding this — “I” exist because SHe makes me; when even a speck of dust has a defined
role to play in this world, “I” must have been given a defined role to play in my existence too; “my role” is something between “me” and “God”. So no clergy can tell one for what purpose God has created one. This purpose is not something that can be stated in a line — “be a good Christian” or “be a good Sikh”. This purpose must be realized in every set of circumstances that we find ourselves in at any moment. “This” moment would have been very different if, say, Bush had not attacked Iraq or 9/11 had not happened, or Hitler had never ruled Germany. So each of us, by our actions in any set of circumstances, is giving shape to
the moments which will follow “this” one. Consider the analogy of a building. Our actions are the bricks. Where we put the brick is going to define the shape of the building. The “mysterious” part of God is that an individual is incapable of seeing the whole building — ever. In Sikh scripture the analogy of fish and sea is used. Fish can only know a part of the sea, never the whole sea.

4

Bloody animal and human sacrifices are illogical demands by a divine god as payment for petty wrong doings. These actions are no different than the rituals of archaic pagan religions. Not to mention the bizarre ritual of symbolically drinking human blood and eating human flesh.

It is erroneous to believe that there is a set of rituals performing which will please God. God will be pleased if we do what created us to do. A person who builds a bicycle won’t be pleased if the bicycle does not do what it was built to do. It may have never rusted or got a puncture, but if it does not move, it is useless. Would we be happy if the bicycle rings the bell in our honour everytime we pass it? Only if it also does what it was created to do. If it doesn’t, then every ring will irritate us even more.

5

If God loves us and wants us to know and believe in him, why be so completely invisible? What is the purpose of being so illusive to those who believe and worship him?

Whether we worship Hir or not, it makes no difference to Hir. Prayer is for our own self not for God. Prayer benefits the individual in that it helps us communicate with the God inside us. More selfless we are, more ably we may communicate with God. The Sikh scripture says — when there was “I” (ego) You were nowhere to be seen; now that “I” (ego) has been banished wherever I see I see only You. That is, once ego is banished we see God in everyone and everything.

6

God never manifests himself or performs miracles as he regularly did for the Israelites in Old Testament stories.

Miracle by definition is something that does not obey laws of nature. God manifests Hirself in laws. SHe has created everything to work according to certain laws. For instance if one throws the ball up it must fall down (unless it is thrown with acceleration exceeding g — another law). A miracle will have the ball float in the air for no reason but to show that the person who threw the ball is a “messenger of God” or some such. All the prophecies combined do not stack up in their influence on advancing man’s knowledge when compared with a single Law of Newton. Without Newton’s discovery of the laws that go under his name, we would never have progressed to space travel. Which is the real miracle? And which knowledge is superior — Newton’s law or say, Old Testament’s last prophecy that Jews are suffering because they are not honest in paying tithe?

7

Prayers are never answered. Certainly not in the way Jesus described. Prayer has absolutely no affect on the world around us.

Prayer does have power but not the way many currently understand it and want to use it. For the Sikh perspective, follow this link: Concept of Prayer in Sikhism

8

Jesus did not fulfill major Old Testament prophesies or even fulfill his own promises and predictions.

Future is ever evolving. Prophecy has no place in a God-centric world for that amounts to knowing God’s mind which is like being God. And there is only One God who is a power not a person. Logical deduction, yes. Prophecy, no.

9

The authors of much of the Bible are unknown. And of these unknown authors, the men who wrote the gospels likely never even met Jesus considering they were written 40-70 years after his death. A far cry from reliable testimony.

All the authors (more than 30) of Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh scripture, are known. Though many of them never met each other, they had access to the writings of those who lived before them. They debate each other’s ideas about spiritual and material aspects of this world keeping the central logic intact but further fleshing it out for the followers.

10

The Bible is repeatedly contradictory with itself, reality, and the laws of morality. Couldn’t God inspire a less poorly written book?

All knowledge has one source — God. Our ego can distort this knowledge.

11

The Bible is open to interpretation. Everyone interprets it in the way that suits them best or serves their purposes.

There are two ways of living one’s life — God-centric and self-centric. In God-centric universe, everything revolves around God including one’s existence — that is including oneself, everything exists to serve God’s purpose. In a self-centric universe, “I” is the centre of the universe and one sees everything as something to be used for self-aggrandizement of some kind.

12

Throughout history, Christians have justified horrific actions by the Bible and its teaching.

Tyranny is tyranny whether committed by others or our own.

13

The Bible promotes hate and persecution against women, homosexuals and those who worship other gods or no god at all.

The Sikh scripture says about women — “why call them inferior who give birth to kings?” On worship of other gods the scripture says whichever door leads one to self-realization, may God open that for one. I would say, theBEattitude, Christianity did open the door for your self-realization 🙂

14

According to the Bible, nearly 70% percent of the people
in the world will burn in hell because they don’t believe Jesus was the son
of God.

Sikhs do not believe that Sikhi is the only path to God. Sikh worldview believes that since there is only One Creator — all humans are part of one family. There are no superiors and inferiors. That also stretches to animals and plants — for these are also God’s creation, Created by Hir to serve a defined role in Hir creation.

15

The only reason I was a Christian was because I was indoctrinated into the religion as a child as a result of the culture and region of the world in which I was born.

Though I was born in a Sikh family, I volunteered the formal initiation at the age of 27 — when I understood what is expected of me as a Sikh.

16

Christianity has no more rational or factual foundation than any other religion on earth that I openly reject.

I would agree with this statement. I personally believe that we are moving towards a unified logical view on what has so far been domain of religion. I think days of religion as we know it, are numbered. For my detailed argument see: Science & Religion

17

The Christian church is disjointed and can’t even agree with one another.

The disagreement I would see as positive. The problem with a prophetic religion is that to correct a wrong statement, another prophet’s arrival is required.

18

Christians are not at all ethically or morally different from non-Christians.

That is true. It holds true for Sikhs as well. However, the difference is that a practicing Sikh is morally a better person as he/she does not discriminate on the basis of colour, creed, class or caste. Or indulges in any other discrimination against their fellow humans.

19

Today, powerful church leaders steal, lie and molest young children. The church repeatedly attempts to cover up these atrocities, only to reluctantly apologize as a last resort.

Sikhi has no clerical class. I can do all that a professional Sikh preacher can. In fact, a Sikh is expected to do their own religious services, but today’s “modern hectic life” is making us look for shortcuts.

20

It is absolutely irrational to continue to believe archaic teaching with the amount of knowledge we’ve gained through science and technology. The Bible reads like a book of primitive folklore, not divinely inspired insight into our true reason for existence.

Very true. However, we should keep in mind that religion, philosophy and science all claim to deal with God’s creation. They all have drawbacks in their approach. My view (as expounded in the link cited previously, Science & Religion)
is that the best approach is a combination of all three approaches.

 

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8 thoughts on ““Losing my religion. Why I recently walked away from Christianity.”

  1. If you feel abandoned, disappointed, angry, burdened, weary, guilty and afraid, you are missing the most important point of a true human being. As you will see soon after reading my article, true Christianity is not about keeping rules, rituals and traditions out of duty or out of fear of punishment. Christianity is also not about seeking peace, comfort and happiness through wishful thinking. Christianity is all about a loving relationship with the Creator of the universe and our very souls, experiencing explosive joy, thanks and freedom here and for eternity.

    I became a Christian in my late twenties during my graduate study in theoretical physics. Before then I was an atheist and believed in myself. Let me start my story by discussing a fundamental difference between human beings and animals. I think the difference between them is much more than just higher intelligence. Human beings ask self-awareness questions such as “Who am I? Where am I from and where am I going? What is the meaning of my life?” I do not think animals ask these kinds of questions to themselves. No matter how powerful and intelligent future supercomputers could be, still they will not be able to ask themselves the above self-awareness questions. Self-awareness and intelligence are quite different matters. What makes this self-awareness that human beings have but animals or supercomputers do not? I believe that human beings have a soul while animals do not. Where did it come from? I believe that it is from God, because apparently it is not from materialistic things. Since a soul is a spirit, there is no way to prove or disprove its existence by a scientific way for which everybody readily agrees. But my belief is that there is a fundamental difference between human beings and animals because the former have a soul but the latter do not, and that the soul is from God.

    Because a soul, God and heaven are all spiritual matters, it appears impossible to know and experience the spiritual world by the same way as we do in the materialistic world. In science we do the appropriate experiments to prove or disprove a proposed theory or hypothesis. But because the spiritual matters do not exist in the materialistic world, they can be known and experienced in ways other than scientific ones. As just one of many examples in our everyday life, think about the unconditional love of a mother for her child. How would you know or measure her unconditional love for her child before observing or experiencing its effects yourself? By studying the structure of her heart or of her neurons in the brain? I do not think you can do it this way. Although we cannot detect or measure its presence by scientific ways, we are sure there exists that kind of special love in a mother. The list goes on such as honesty, hope and integrity. Science has done a lots of things for human beings, but there are still some areas we cannot understand and approach by scientific ways because they do not exist in the materialistic world. Due to its nature, the presence of the spiritual world can be known by its effects or fruits, or in other words by interactions with other beings. “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the spirit (John 3:8)”.

    Then can we know how the spiritual world works? Many people try to understand and approach it by speculation. They theorize, conjecture and guess it. They think that God should be the way they want it or do things the way they want it. But there is an alternative to speculation about the knowledge of the spiritual world. Revelation through the Bible. The Bible is God’s words written by the hands of people who were inspired by God. Because it was written and transcribed by human hands over many years, there could be some mistakes in words and phrases. But the core message, who God really is and what he has done such as the salvation of human beings from sin through faith in the Messiah, remains the same. Since the true characters of a being are revealed only through interactions with other beings, in the old testament God chose a particular group of people (Israel) as an object lesson to show the whole world who he really is. Through the relationship of God with the people of Israel, we come to know and understand the true characters of God, which could be quite different from your Genie whom you might have created by speculation. God is the creator of the universe including our souls, unconditionally loves human beings created in his image, at the same time he is also just and righteous. But the loving relationship between the creator and creatures was broken by our sin of disobeying God and following the evil suggestions of Satan. In spite of our separation from the love of God as a result of sin, God still desired to have a relationship with human beings so he devised an animal sacrifice where the blood of animals was shed to pay the penalty of our sins in our behalf. Since God is just and righteous, the consequence of sins must be paid for complete forgiveness. Here is an easy example to understand the justice and righteousness of God.

    Suppose a thief stole a billion dollars from a bank, spent all of them, and later was caught. Is it just and right for the judge to release the thief simply because he confesses his crime with sincere remorse? No, then the justice would not be exercised the way it should be. The appropriate consequence for his sin must be paid by the thief or somebody else, and that is the justice everybody agrees. “Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished (Exodus 34:7)”. The animal sacrifice devised by God reveals the characters of God, both his righteousness (The consequence of our sins must be paid) and his love (The consequence of our sins is paid upon animals instead of us who committed the sins). In spite of God’s continuous forgiveness of their sins through the animal sacrifice, God’s people (Israel) again returned to the sin and rebellion after a short moment of remorse, revealing the persistent nature of sin in human beings. After the great fall human beings could not get out of the bondage of sins on their own in spite of their desire and effort. Despite the original intention of God (“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible”: Matthew 19:26), the people of Israel continued trying to keep all the rules and rituals in order to prove their righteousness before God. As I mentioned before, the old testament is a shadow of what would be fulfilled in the future by the Messiah for the whole human beings. Eventually the sacrifice of animals (without defect) in the old testament was replaced by the sacrificial death of Jesus (without sin) to pay the penalty of all our sins once and for all. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, God comes into our heart to reside as the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6) to free us from the bondage of sin. “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:32)”. Then our heart becomes the holiest place in the world!

    There are two important features in our salvation from sin. First, it is a gift of God for all human beings. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)”. Our God of love and compassion is just like a loving mother jumps into the water to save her drowning child regardless of whether the child is obedient or disobedient to her. Her loving heart for the child is far from the petty conditional love (If you will obey me, then I will save and love you. Otherwise I will not save you). This unconditional love is possible because she shed her own blood with pain when delivering the child. The love of a mother for her child is just a shadow of the love of God for all human beings through the blood of Jesus. Second, it is obtained by faith, not by works. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9)”. Our salvation from sin is so precious that even selling all our possessions to give them to the poor would not be enough to earn it, although this is a good thing to do. It is what the people of Israel had done to earn righteousness by trying to literally and legalistically observe all the rules and rituals to be perfect before God. It is impossible to attain the high standard of righteousness by our own works (Matthew 19:26) so God provided for us another way of salvation, salvation by faith in Jesus Christ who fulfilled the whole righteousness on our behalf. Because salvation comes from faith in Jesus Christ, we are 100% sure of our eternity in heaven, free from the fear of our uncertain eternal future. The salvation by faith may not be the way you expected from your common sense (by speculation), but this is the way according to the revelation of God. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death (Proverbs 16:25)”. Then you may ask what is the point for good works. We do good works out of thanks for the grace we have received from our God, namely, the gift of the fulfilled life here and the eternal life in heaven which we have not earned by our works. Now you can see the difference. We do good works out of thanks to God, but not to compensate for our sins in order to earn salvation.

    Have you ever experienced the joy of freedom from the bondage of sin with the help of the words of God? I will give you just one of many examples. On one occasion I arrived at a free pornographic site while surfing on the internet. Seeing a few dozens of free pornographic images was very enticing because it was free and nobody was watching me. There was nothing to lose. Seeing them or not was just my finger tip away. Then I was reminded of two verses in Psalm (119:9,11). “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you”. With the words of God I resisted the temptation successfully. What a joy of freedom from the bondage of my sinful desires of self-indulgent lust! The joy and freedom was hundred times greater than my temporary pleasure of seeing the images. Have you ever experienced this kind of joy and freedom? If not, you are missing your full potential as a true “free” human being. Overwhelmed by the mighty love and grace of God, I am 100% satisfied with and thankful for everything, absolutely everything. I even thank God for the cancer I struggled with recently. Because of the disease, I learned to love and trust my God more, learned to be more thankful for everything, learned to have more compassion for other people, learned to resist better the temptation of lust and selfishness! Overwhelmed by the unconditional love of God, my joy, thanks and freedom have exploded like a volcano everyday.

    In summary, Christianity is not about keeping man-made rules, rituals and traditions out of duty or out of fear of punishment. Christianity is also not about seeking peace, comfort and happiness through wishful thinking. Christianity is all about a loving relationship with the Creator of the universe and our very souls, experiencing explosive joy, thanks and freedom here and for eternity.

    Please read “Why I do NOT leave Christianity” at http://faithforsalvation.blogspot.com for more compl

  2. An old post, but I put my thoughts on it.
    First of all I ask for your pardon, my english is rather poor, I am not a native speaker and never set foot on a country where english is the spoken language, as such my vocabulary is limited.
    Second let’s me introduce myself, I am brazilian, 23 years old, an undergraduate student in mathematics, though I have a huge set of interests, varying from religious studies and iranian literature to astronomy and physics, and I generally study these subjects, at least to be able to ponder and even conjecture about the them.
    My religious background is christian, I was born a protestant, both my parents converted from catholicism some decades ago, at the end of my high school, after have studied church history and patristics I abandoned the reformed faith of my teen years and joined the Greek Melkite Catholic Church (an Eastern Catholic Church, in communion with the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern in theology and not prone to a theological latinism as the majority of catholics and protestants are), I thought Calvinism wasn’t compatible with the thoughts and discussions of the ancient church fathers which I have read as a teenager, for me only some of beliefs of Calvinism are in fact compatible with the fathers writings: absolute sovereign of God over this world (from this coupled with an augustinian world view that Calvin formulated his predestination belief), belief in a triune god (thus believing in a personal god, different from Sikhism), one person of which incarnated, being fully god and fully man that died and rose from the dead, from this belief, called orthodox christology, does the Eastern christianity take the doctrine of atonement, different from the latin belief that it was by his sacrifice on the cross, the eastern view is summarized in a phrase of Athanasius: “God became man so that man might become God”, this is a metaphor not to be taken literally, its an explanation of a belief called Theosis (read about it at Wikipedia), nothing in the growing protestant pragmatism remembered me of the spirituality of Cyprian, Cyril and Athanasius, the growing relativism in the protestant church in Brazil to gain more adepts (a characteristic inherited from the American evangelicals) made it adopt basic doctrines that were foreign to even to the reformed theology, just to have one more protestant in their churches, Brazil is already a christian country, the protestants are converting, well, lapsed christian to a form of “pragmatic pseudo-reformed anti-catholic” christianity, the majority of protestants here Brazil does not mind this relativism for the part of their ministers, generally, with some exceptions, the evangelicals are intellectually shallow.
    That said, it appears for me that the author does not believed in these positions, or any other close to a deep rooted protestantism, it appear for me that he was one of these shallow evangelicals so common out there, for me this is not any oddity, just to see how this will become more common in America you must look at England the homeland of Evangelicalism (read “Evangelicalism in Modern Britain” from Bebbington) in the form that it is still common today, in the 19th century this form of evangelicalism was common there, specially among the working class, but also in some upper circles, some years later it is almost completely gone from the english national character, you as a sikh should at least know about the english missionaries in India in the time of the Raj. I must add that 5 years and some reflections, coupled with some study in other religions (specially Judaism and Shi’a Islam, both the Twelver and the Ismaili sect) and philosophy, especially Epistemology, made me a non-believer I’m no longer a christian and I think that I cannot believe in any other religion again, especially the ones based on revelation, that includes Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism and some others, I cannot understand why a God, being it a person or not, would put his revelation on Moses, Muhammad or Guru Nanak, why not on a 9 year girl in 4th century Norseland or a chinese elder in, I don’t know, 34th century BC China, and the most important, why not to everyone? (Of course there were other reasons as well, but none that I could call 20 points)
    You as a Sikh could answer me this with a Skih viewpoint? I beg you pardon if I made any misconception on Sikhism, I do not studied it as a religion and my commentaries are based only on what I heard about the religion.

    • Thank you for your comment “Brazilian Poor English Writer”.
      The answer to your specific question on prophets is at number 6 and number 17 above.
      Sikh view is quite simple on this matter — anything anyone does in this world one does because God gave one the capability. Hence, considering the accepted definition of a prophet, either we are all (those who have lived before and those who will live in future) prophets or none of us is.
      If the above sounds like Sikhs do not believe in free will, that would be incorrect. Sikh view may best be expressed in terms of a computer analogy.
      1. Our body is the hardware, that God has created.
      2. This hardware is useless if there is no software inside. Our thoughts and all our faculties are the software that God has put inside our body.
      3. Without batteries, neither the hardware nor the software or both together are of any use. Our soul (which we accept as essence of God inside us) is the electricity that makes the hardware and the software work. When the batteries go off, this hardware and software die.
      4. The difference in this analogy between computer and man is free will. This is also the difference between man as a creator (of computer) and God as Creator (of man). Our whole effort is geared towards Artificial Intelligence — giving a computer free will, the power to make decisions independently according to situation that confronts it. That, to use a cliche, is the holy grail.
      5. God, on the other hand, has not only given us a free will, SHe has also created all the limits within which this free will works. Man’s fear is that if we are able to give free will to AI, how are we going to limit it. Theoretically, this limit is set by the “prime directive”. In practice, there is no way of knowing whether that will work.

      To come back to why Guru Nanak got the revelation — for the same reason Newton got the revelation of laws of motion and Einstein got the revelation of theory of relativity. They made an effort to discover and they found. Sikhs do not believe that God picks and chooses people and then reveals some special knowledge to the “chosen”. One of the basic precepts of Sikh worldview is that we reap what we sow. Guru Nanak sowed the seed and reaped the fruit. He also showed us how to sow our seed and reap the fruit through his writings (Gurbani). It is exactly what Newton and Einstein did — they showed the world how to sow the seed to get the fruit that they did.

      Regarding why some knowledge reveals itself at a particular time — we need to think of knowledge in terms of an ever growing wall (see at number 3 in my response to BEattitude). Each brick can be put in its designated place if the bricks on which it will be placed are in position. To use another analogy, we could not have discovered space travel if we still believed Earth to be the centre of the universe 🙂
      Regards,

      • Whoa, thanks for the answer, reading my comment I see that my english is worse than I realized, shame on me, though it was wrote in a hurry. I understood your argument and still have some “problems” with it, though they are philosophical and I don’t want to develop then. I bookmarked your blog, I want to study Sikhism, at least the basics, any directions for me? (Please don’t say that I must learn Punjabi, it wasn’t enjoyable to learn Hebrew to study Judaism)

  3. LOL…I am awestruck at your commitment to study a new philosophy/religion/worldview in original. Did you learn modern Hebrew or Classical?
    Regarding learning about Sikh worldview, please see the link below:
    http://www.sikhs.org/english/frame.html

    It is the English translation of Sikh scripture. Though it is difficult to convey the depth of thought of original Punjabi in English translation, if you ponder the statements, and relate them to each other, keeping in mind the creedal lines –“ONE UNIVERSAL CREATOR GOD.THE NAME IS TRUTH.CREATIVE BEING PERSONIFIED. NO FEAR. NO HATRED.IMAGE OF THE UNDYING, BEYOND BIRTH,SELF-EXISTENT.BY GURU’S GRACE” you should be able to get the real sense of Sikh worldview.

    The website http://www.sikhs.org has a lot of other useful material available.
    Regards,

    • I Learned Classical Hebrew, to read, with a lexicon at hand, the Hebrew Bible, the Mishnah and some others Seforim (Writings of the Rabbis in the past). Modern Hebrew have some different linguistic constructions and a much broader and abstract vocabulary that is not present in Classical Hebrew.

      • Quite interesting — from your use of the word Seforim I am guessing that you studied under the Orthodox stream of Judaism?

  4. You Guessed right, it was the dominant form of Judaism in over 1600 years until the 20th century and much of the jewish literature produced over this time was supporting the Orthodox view, of course there are still Karaites and Samaritans with differing views but I don’t have access to the literature of these groups, now there are also some dissenting groups, they are the dominant faction in the jewish community here in Brazil, but they lack any form of literature like that of the Orthodox jews, this in part explain the haredization that the jewish community has faced in the last 40 years here in São Paulo.

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