Hi everyone, hope you’ve had a great Easter weekend. In between eating chocolate for breakfast and Googling the early signs of diabetes, I decided to make my first blog post a reflection on my experience of Christianity and to explore what Christians believe is ‘the true meaning of Easter’.
I was christened as a baby and attended church and Sunday School as a child, never questioning the point of it, or even if I believed in God. That all changed when I became a teenager. By that stage in my life I’d seen so much hatred in the world, so much tragedy and injustice, that I struggled to believe there was a God. I strongly felt that, if he did exist, he clearly didn’t care about anyone or anything that was happening here on Earth. I’ve seen news of children, some barely a couple of years old, dying of cancer, of school shootings across America, of people dying in excruciating pain, losing loved ones in religious wars, and countless reports of child kidnappers, rapists and murderers the world over. I’d seen honest, kind-hearted people mercilessly disposed of by huge companies and greedy businessmen, their ideas stolen and their labour exploited. I’d seen ageing world leaders in plush offices send fit young men to fight and die for them, thousands of miles from home, when they’d only begun to live.
Deep unease set in my mind and I finally started to question what I’d been brought up to believe: How could I marry the concepts of evolution and Darwinism when God apparently created the Earth and everything in it? Where did evolution fit in if Adam and Eve were crafted, by God’s fair hands, in fully evolved, homo sapien form? I was told that God loved us, despite the fact we were all sinners who deserved to be punished. I was told that I lived only because God had sent Jesus, his son, to be crucified. I remember two thoughts burning in my mind: What had I done, before I’d even drawn breath, that was so bad I had to earn my right to live? What kind of parent would even think of sacrificing their child?
Over the next few years I rejected the notion of there being any God whatsoever and started reading about the insane number of different religions that had sprouted up throughout ancient history. I then discovered more stories from ancient civilisations, all of which have the same characteristic details as the story of Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection. For example, the Hindu deity Krishna was born of a virgin, performed miracles and was resurrected after his death. In Greek mythology, the god Dionysus was also born of a virgin on 25th December and, like Jesus, was reportedly referred to as ‘The King of Kings’. The tale which made me realise I could no longer take religion seriously was that of the Egyptian God, Horus. Like Jesus, Horus was born of a virgin on 25th December, with a star in the East informing people of his birth. He also had twelve disciples, performed miracles and was crucified, buried and resurrected after three days.
As far as Easter is concerned, Christians consider it the holiday which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the son of God, after his death on a cross. However, the concept of a son on a cross also features heavily in religious stories from the ancient world, many of which refer to the death of the sun on the Constellation of the Southern Cross. Another deity, the goddess Ishtar, was also tied to a stake, killed and resurrected and the Pagan celebration of Easter reportedly comes from the Teutonic goddess Oestre or Eastre.
The existence of so many versions of the same religious story makes one thing abundantly clear to me: not a single one of them can be true.
If anyone were to ask me about my religious beliefs now, I would proudly describe myself as a Humanist. In a nutshell, Humanism is a completely atheist way of thinking and living which is founded on the belief that this one life, unembellished and unexplained, is all there is. Humanists believe that the creation of the Universe was a natural phenomenon with no supernatural meaning. It promotes the wild idea that we should treat each other with respect and kindness simply because it displays compassionate humanity, not because we will receive some kind of reward for it when we die.
I would strongly encourage anyone interested to visit the Humanists UK website and to watch the first part of the documentary ‘Zeitgeist’, which goes even deeper into the invention of religion as a method of controlling people throughout history.
My fervent opinion of religion is that it has brought the world more war, more misery, more deprivation and more suppression than anything else I can think of. I’m deeply saddened at the idea of anyone living their lives to please someone else (which is particularly tragic when it’s someone they’ve never actually met) and praying to be forgiven for doing or thinking things that don’t please this person. If anyone demanded their partner, family member or friend continually give thanks to and beg them for forgiveness it would be tantamount to psychological abuse. However, the most disturbing aspect of religion for me is its obsession with death. All too often, Christianity (and all other forms of religion) teaches people to be more concerned with the prospect of life after death instead of the life they’re currently living.
In this way I see the classic chocolate Easter egg as a metaphor for Christianity itself: beautifully presented on the outside but entirely man made, sickening and ultimately hollow when you take it apart.
Zeitgeist Documentary Pt. 1: