Why I Don’t Believe in Sin

If you read here often, you know Anne Rice is one of my favorite women. She recently posted this question to her Facebook fans:

What do you think about the word, sin? I think it’s a bad word, a confusing word. It doesn’t help us to meet the challenges we face. What do you think? Do you believe in “sin?” What is it? Can you define it for me and others?

My reply was quite simple: “I don’t believe in sin. I think what people really mean when they talk about sin is becoming a better person. Growing and working on yourself is something we should all aspire to do, but to call our shortcomings “sin” is damaging. Some of the “sin” I used to think I had in the past was actually my personality and some of it was depression.”

Quite simply, the idea of sin is made up by preachers and people who want to perpetuate religion. Is the idea of sin really necessary as a driving force to be a better person? Is guilt necessary to cause us to “confess” our shortcomings? I don’t think so. Before you disagree and point out the Boston bombers or some other example, of course, I agree with you: there are people who do bad things, who hurt other people, etc. But the complexity surrounding these people is much greater than just “He’s a monster,” or “She’s evil.” Rarely is there a moment where things are so simple.

All dark deeds aside, many of us have had religious-induced guilt pounded into our psyche for far too long. So much that we find it easy to “admit we’re a sinner” and ask for forgiveness. Look, I’m fine asking someone for forgiveness that I’ve hurt, but I don’t believe that I should admit I’m a sinner. I’m not a sinner. I’m a good person, but I have emotions. I get angry, sad, glad, upset, depressed, and on occasion  I have a moment of rage. I think that makes me human, not a sinner.

If you want to sell the “sinner” path, great. I hope someone buys your bullshit. As for me, I’ll be over here in “enjoying life” land.

Interested in hearing more of why I left Christianity? Read this piece of work (I say that sarcastically) by John Piper talking about sin: http://www.worldmag.com/2013/04/we_re_all_broken_what_then What complete and total bullshit. I can’t be a part of a religion that teaches this nonsense.

[Thanks to my friend Suzi for the John Piper article link.]

Kirk Cameron criticizes Stephen Hawking (and every non-believer) for saying ‘there is no heaven’

I used to think Kirk Cameron was cute, obviously, but lately (read: for a really long time) he’s become so emblematic for everything that’s wrong with Christianity. And by Christianity, I mean fundamentalism and by fundamentalism I mean the “bat shit crazy” of our times.

I used to think Kirk Cameron was cute, obviously, but lately (read: for a really long time) he’s become so emblematic for everything that’s wrong with Christianity. And by Christianity, I mean fundamentalism and by fundamentalism I mean the “bat shit crazy” of our times.

Kirk Cameron recently criticized Stephen Hawking’s ‘there is no heaven’ statement on his Facebook page:

kirk cameron

 

I obviously have a lot of issues with his statement. First of all, it doesn’t make sense in the “realm of reality” as he says he lives. The problem with reading fundamentalist arguments is that it’s like listening to gibberish, and the argument only makes sense within the confines of a fundamentalist belief system/community/culture. So, if you sometimes venture out to work, or a secular college, or a normal book, this stuff won’t make sense to you. Second, I have a ton of questions (see below):

Kirk says: To say anything negative about Stephen Hawking is like bullying a blind man. He has an unfair disadvantage, and that gives him a free pass on some of his absurd ideas. Professor Hawking is heralded as “the genius of Britain,” yet he believes in the scientific impossibility that nothing created everything…

I say: Do you mean that he believes God did not create the universe? Believing that God didn’t have any place in creating the universe is entirely different from believing in scientific theory. They are separate entities and not related at all. If a scientist doesn’t take into consideration the belief that God created the universe it’s because it’s not a REAL theory and it’s based entirely on a Christian world-view, not a scientific one. There are plenty of Christians and Christian scientists who don’t find the creation story legitimate.

 Kirk says: (Sir Isaac Newton called atheism “senseless and odious”) and that life sprang from non-life. To speak on issues of science and violate it’s essential laws is like playing checkers with a someone who changes the rules when he’s losing.

I say: What essential laws of science has Hawking violated? I see no violation evident here. Also, who cares if Sir Isaac Newton didn’t like atheism? Everyone is entitled to their own opinion; however, unless some random statement like this about an historical figure has a reference linked to it, I am wary that it’s even true.

Kirk says: Why should anyone believe Mr. Hawking’s writings if he cannot provide evidence for his unscientific belief that out of nothing, everything came?

I say: Why should Hawking have to waste time providing evidence of a belief system? A religion? You can’t “prove” that a religion or belief system is real-by it’s very nature religion/belief systems are and idea, a cultural and societal phenomenon, that’s both useful and interesting to try to understand why communities hold on to them, but why we have religion in the world is not really a scientific question. The examination of belief systems and ideas perpetuated by beliefs is better suited for philosophers or anthropologists; it’s unrelated to science.

Kirk says: He says he knows there is no Heaven. John Lennon wasn’t sure. He said to pretend there’s no Heaven. That’s easy if you try.

I say: There is no heaven. Heaven is a sales-tactic used by Christian ministers which has successfully scared the hell out of people for years. Why take offense to someone not believing in your beliefs?

Kirk says: Then he said he hoped that someday we would join him. Such wishful thinking reveals John and Stephen’s religious beliefs, not good science. They may imagine all they want, but I lost my faith in atheism long ago and prefer to stay within the realm of reality.

I say: Okay, first of all, Stephen doesn’t have wishful thinking and John Lennon was a songwriter whose songs (like many songs) borrow from Christian culture and phrases because it’s been a part of the US and world for centuries; not necessarily because Lennon believed. Also, no one really cares if you lost faith in atheism a long time ago. Atheism isn’t something people like me care to push on anyone, even fundies like you. In fact, I could care less what you believe or don’t believe and that’s the difference–the major difference–between you and me. The only reason I care to bring this up is that you feel the need to push your views on people all the time. That’s WHY atheists are angry. Atheists are often former Christians who see through the bullshit and the stupidity of our former beliefs. We have little tolerance for these kind of lectures. They’re useless.

(h/t Washington Post)

Jimmy Swaggart And Me

When I was younger I worked for an air freight contractor. I was on a job, when Jimmy Swaggart comes over to me, and starts telling me what a disgraceful woman I am, not wearing a skirt, lesbian hair and, worst of all, I’m taking a job away from a MAN! And then he attempts to tell me this is all why I need Jesus.

Jimmy Swaggart Crying

 

Image Credit: Matt Dobbins/Corbis Images

This is a guest post from Calulu, a blogger and admin for the No Longer Quivering Network. 

When I was younger I worked for an air freight contractor that had contracts with several major air freight lines that didn’t have official offices in Baton Rouge or New Orleans. It was a good job back in those ancient days when three bucks an hour was minimum wage. As a contractor I made a steady thirteen bucks an hour. I was licensed, bonded, and I carried a pistol. I knew how to use that gun too, as long as I didn’t have to shoot too far.

I was done each day no later than 2 pm, so I took afternoon classes at Louisiana State University. The pay was enough that if I lived frugally I could also afford to pay for my education. I’d get up at five am and call the 800 number to find out the arrival time of whatever shipment I was scheduled to pick up and deliver that day. I could be going out to the New Orleans airport to pick up freight or over to the Baton Rouge airport and making deliveries anywhere from Geismar all the way out to the prison in Angola. In those days airport security was a joke. At both airports I could pull up to a side gate leading onto the tarmac, pop the always unlocked lock and cruise right on in. The plane would arrive and we’d unload the cargo onto the tarmac, sort it all, and load it into the backs of our trucks before going out to make our deliveries. You’d pull an on-call weekend and Friday night duty once every eight weeks, for which you would receive blessed overtime! It was a good job, except for one thing: assclowns like Jimmy Swaggart.

Late one Friday afternoon I got a call telling me to head out to the airport, pick up three large packages and deliver them to a certain address off Bluebonnet Lane. Now, in those days there was no Mall of Louisiana or anything of any interest out on Bluebonnet. It was acres and acres of empty land, the one exception being the first building of Jimmy Swaggart’s organization, church, and Bible college. I remember it being a long nondescript concrete gray building. I pulled up outside and saw there was no delivery area. Hell, there was barely a parking lot. But there was a hellacious sea of mud, everywhere.

By now it was around 6:00 pm on a Friday evening. I had to pound on the front door to get someone to answer since everything was locked up tighter than the offering after church. Some man in a suit answers the door. I tell him, “Hey, I’m here with the delivery.” He fusses and frets because it’s just him and a few other guys in suits there. The part of the building where they need the computers delivered hasn’t had a concrete pad or drive poured there yet. He wants me to pull my truck up through the mud towards the back door and carry the boxes into the building.

When I had picked those three large crates up, the nice guy at the Delta air freight terminal had loaded them onto my truck with a forklift. They were HEAVY, they were HUGE! I’d called from Delta when I was loading to get my boss to call down to tell the recipients that they needed a forklift or a pile of strong men to get them off the truck. The boxes were all marked “Fragile computer equipment inside – Handle with care”. So I call my boss and tell him that I am at the delivery destination and that there’s only a handful of people around, no fork lift, not even real access to the back door since there was no way in hell I was driving my heavy truck in the mud. So he calls them up, some nasty words are exchanged and finally I am told to pull my truck into the parking lot as close to the back door as possible and then the guys there would hand carry the boxes in. And they do, sweating and straining, ruining some fancy suits and leather dress shoes in the muck and mud. They get box number one, they get box number two and as I’m behind box number three and I start pushing it forward I hear this voice, a voice that’s not unfamiliar to me. It takes me a moment to place the voice, but it’s Brother Jimmy Swaggart himself. I peek around and he’s huddled with the guys, no one is paying any attention to the fact that I’ve shoved the final bit to the very end of the truck. I come out and ask the guys if they are ready for the last box.

There I am, standing in my uniform of gray pants, and a gray button shirt with my name and company name stitched bravely in whites and reds on the breast. Swaggart comes over to me, takes one look at me in my uniform with my short punk rock hair with the spikes on top and launches into a lecture to end all. He starts telling me what a disgraceful woman I am, looking like that, not wearing a skirt, lesbian hair and, worst of all, I’m taking a job away from a MAN! For shame, for shame! And then he attempts to tell me this is all why I need Jesus.

By this time I had had enough. I shoved the heavy crate forward, running on pure adrenaline. It landed with a big old plop right into the deep Louisiana mud, splattering Jimmy and his sycophants with mud. I said, “Fuck you Jimmy Swaggart!” Then, I jumped in my truck and I burned rubber out of there so fast. No, I didn’t get in trouble for this when someone from the ministry called to complain. Ha! I still laugh thinking about the looks on those stuffed-shirts faces, particularly after I told Jimmy to fuck off.

Through the years I saw how he and his folks acted in Baton Rouge and it was with something less than honorable. My father told me for many moons before he was exposed as a prostitution aficionado that he’d see Jimmy in this high end restaurant or that with expensive hookers, out for a meal. When all of that went down with Swaggart crying from his pulpit about his sins he lost so much money that he just about killed two banks in Baton Rouge. He lived just down the street from my in laws so we’d see him and his around and about. Truly evil guy.

This was originally posted here and was used with the author’s permission.

About the author: Calulu lives near Washington DC , was raised Catholic in South Louisiana before falling in with a bunch of fallen Catholics whom had formed their own part Fundamentalist, part Evangelical church. After fifteen uncomfortable years drinking that Kool-Aid she left nearly 6 years ago. Now she is the admin at No Longer Quivering –http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nolongerquivering/. Her blogs are Calulu – Roadkill on the Internet Superhighway and The Burqa Experience.