When I was a Christian I believed some very stupid things. I pick my top five stupidest beliefs here.
#1. The Great Science Conspiracy
Science and the Bible don’t get along. When I was a Christian I stuck my head in the sand and insisted that the Bible was 100% correct on all scientific matters. If scientists disagreed it had to be because they were godless heathens and were actively working against god, trying to lead people straight to hell. My favorite book was Science According to Moses (embarrassing, I know) written by family friend Dr. G. Thomas Sharp.
I believed evolution was a lie, dinosaurs and humans lived together Flintstones style, climate change was a hoax, stem cell research was evil, embryos were fully formed tiny people, the TV show Cosmos was a tool of Satan, and Stephen Hawking was an idiot. If science disagreed with god, then obviously science had to be wrong.
#2. Good People Would Burn in Hell (and deserve it)
This belief is as sinister as it is stupid. I truly believed that truly good, honest, loving people would burn in hell for eternity if they weren’t Christians when they died. According to my narrow view of the world, the only way into heaven was through belief in Jesus Christ and acceptance of him as your savior.
I remember my dad had a friend named Toby. He was the nicest guy you could ever meet. Our family was poor when I was young, but Toby always made sure we had food when money was tight. He brought my brother and me Christmas and birthday gifts. He was awesome. Toby got sick and died. I remember my dad being especially sad because Toby wasn’t a Christian. Despite being a loyal friend and selfless person, Toby was now burning in a fiery pit forever just because our ‘loving’ god was a petty asshole. I’m ashamed I ever believed this.
#3. Everything Happens for a Reason
No matter how horrible an event happened to be – it was allowed for a reason. God will bring good things to us out of tragedy. Your child died? God’s plan. Earthquake in Haiti? God’s plan. You have inoperable cancer? God’s plan. Don’t worry, it will all work out. Even in death, you’ll just end up in heaven and the pain of your passing will serve as some strange object lesson about god’s love for your family.
This belief is pervasive, even among people who are not especially religious. The idea of fate pre-dates Christianity, but the Bible tells us “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28). Never fear! Terrorist attacks, world wars, sickness, pain, fear, any and every bad thing that could possibly happen will all work out for you eventually – as long as you love the monster who put you through that shit.
#4. The Rapture
Almost everyone knows about the rapture. The rapture is when Jesus decides everyone needs to get their ass to heaven ASAP and all the Christians on earth rise into the air (most likely naked, because clothes are evil or something) and disappear into space where heaven has been hiding. Just imagine that! A bunch of naked Christians flying around in the sky on their way to a kick-ass god party in outer space. Hell yes.
Here’s a little factoid that most non-believers don’t know about. Dead Christians are raised up in the rapture too (1 Thessalonians 4:16). I don’t know if they go up as clouds of dust, skeletons, and cadavers in various states of decay or what. The Bible doesn’t say.
#5 Supernatural Marauders
Being a Christian means you believe in the supernatural. I thought that angels and demons were active on earth and fought epic invisible battles. The Bible alludes to the idea that when we’re experiencing difficulties in life, it’s because we’re actually fighting invisible beings who want to harm our souls (Ephesians 6:12).
The Bible also says, “be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2). I thought whenever I gave a homeless man money or volunteered at a soup kitchen that some of the people I helped might actually be angels keeping an eye on me, making sure I was acting like a good Christian. My family was way into Touched by an Angel. Ugh.
I also had some non-traditional views. I thought the Nephilim mentioned in Genesis were vampires that were still around and hiding out in Romania or somewhere. I mean, the legends had to come from somewhere, right?
I had a pet theory to explain away the verse where Jesus says, “verily I say unto you, There are some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:28). Clearly, all the disciples are long dead, but Jesus has not yet returned. I firmly believed the Bible couldn’t be wrong, Jesus couldn’t have been mistaken, so why does this seem like such a glaring error?
Remember Lazarus? Jesus raised him from the dead. Yet in Hebrews 9:27 the Bible says, “and as it is appointed unto men once to die.” If Lazarus had already died once and been raised up, that must make him immortal! So Jesus was right, Lazarus would live to see his return 2000+ years later. Lazarus is just hanging out, counting down the days, being all immortal and shit.
Yes, I Was Delusional
I think Richard Dawkins is right when he characterizes belief in god to be a delusion. I was completely sucked into the Christian worldview. It warped my mind and made me believe many, many stupid things.
I’m embarrassed and even ashamed of some of the beliefs I use to hold. Some just made me look like an idiot while others were destructive and harmful. My point in writing this is to show you that people with stupid beliefs CAN be reasoned out of them. It may take years, it may frustrate the hell out of you, but please don’t give up on the people you care about. Every logical argument you present, every irrational belief you refute, plants a seed of doubt that can eventually give rise to a logical human being. Don’t give up.