Sometimes, a bit of satire says it best...
Religion is a very powerful thing, so much so that, when people have been involved in it even for a while, it is very difficult to leave. It is even more difficult when an individual has been in it for most of his or her life and has given a full heart of devotion to it.
So the news world experienced some shock waves yesterday when one of the most religious men in the world renounced his faith: Farhis O'Hare, world-renowned atheist, has left the faith.
"My religion was precious to me," he said, "as much or more so than any Christian or Muslim or Jew. Faith in the absence of God always brought great comfort to my heart. Faith in the theory of evolution did too."
O'Hare tried very hard to hold onto his religion.
"I wanted to keep believing, I really did. But faith just became so hard for me. Every time I turned around the 'science' was changing. First the universe was 20 million years old, then a billion, then 4 billion, then 16 billion, and now 20 billion. It finally dawned on me that people just threw figures around without any evidence. That hurt me; I really did have lots of faith in my favorite scientists, my 'gods,' I guess you would call them."
In spite of all that, O'Hare did not go down easily.
"I worshiped very hard. I suppose I was really just trying to convince myself," he said. "I always attended lectures on atheism, even when I would rather have been on the lake fishing. I gave my offerings (donations to liberal causes) regularly. I even prayed."
When queried about whom he would have to pray to, O'Hare got a bit sheepish.
"To me," he whispered, explaining that, since he had believed there was no God,that made him (and any other human) the final authority, and thus, a god himself.
"I have to admit, it is a bit awkward at first, but after a while you just learn to refer to yourself in the second person as you pray. After a while, you can really get into it."
In addition to the billions of years simply spoken into existence as the need arose, O'Hare also stumbled in his faith because of the inconsistency of life among other believers.
"They claimed not to believe in God, but when their children's mother died, they told the kid she was 'in a better place.' They claim to believe the survival of the fittest, but then get angry when their kid gets bullied by a bigger kid. They say there is no absolute truth, but they blow up when someone lies to them. Do you want to know why I stopped believing? I left the faith because of the absolute hypocrisy of so-called believers."
O'Hare knows that he will likely receive little sympathy.
"Believers are really mean to those who leave the faith, I know that. The 'tolerant' are really very intolerant to any dissent. I fully expect to be blackballed and to have the leaders of my former religion command that other believers no longer talk to me. Shunning is such an ugly thing, but it is just part and parcel of the religion I spent my life in."
Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, N.C., and the author of several books which are available at wordofhismouth.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.