Back In The Day

Though I am much more satisfied with life as an atheist than I ever was as a believer, sometimes it is hard not to look back and feel a sense of profound disappointment in myself for what I believed and accepted in the name of god. I understand how my culture and my environment conditioned me. But I still wish I had known better. I wish I had seen the truth sooner.I wish I had viewed the Bible for what it really was. The idea that I promoted a book full of such violence and horror truly disgusts me at times.

Over the weekend I was reflecting on a passage of scripture. I can remember reading it and taking notes on it multiple times. I can remember the conclusion that I drew from said scripture. The passage is entirely too long to post here. But for those who are interested it can be found in 1st Samuel 15-16, the story of Saul and the Amalekites. I read this as a teenager and not once did it occur to me that what Yahweh commanded Saul to do was tantamount to genocide. When ministers preached from these chapters, they made it clear that Saul did not sin in making sure that every Amalekite-man, woman, child, toddler, infant and fetus-was slaughtered. No, Saul’s “sin” was in sparing the best of the livestock to sacrifice to Yahweh! The moral of this story is supposed to be that we must obey the command of Yahweh down to the letter; that “obedience is better than sacrifice”. The Amalekites-and any others who got in the way of Yahweh’s chosen people-were worthless, expendable and deserving of death.

I ask myself now: what the hell was I thinking? Why was I ever part of such a repugnant belief system? I can remember the horror I felt when I first learned of the Holocaust. I remember the deep sense of anger I felt during Rwanda’s genocide. I was able to recognize such events for the crimes against humanity that they were. But when it came to the genocide detailed in the pages of my Bible, I literally could not see it! I read the Bible from cover to cover, twice. But I was so blinded by faith and by fear that I thought what happened in the Old Testament was somehow different. Now it’s simply not possible for me to justify it. I value life and humanity too much to advocate such things. My views have changed. Yet looking back at that time gives me chills, for I know there are plenty of others who are still have that mentality and will never change.

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