Why I believe (by someone who shouldn’t)–A guest post by Travis Mamone

I hope you all enjoyed Abe Kobylanski’s guest post yesterday. Today, Travis Mamone discusses why he is still a Christian, even though atheism makes more sense. I hope you enjoy his post, and afterward, be sure to check out his blog, The Boy with the Thorn in His Side. 

I’ve been a Christian for almost twelve years. I go to church every Sunday. I know the Creeds and the Lord’s Prayer by heart. I can tell you which books are in the Old Testament and which are in the New Testament. And my iPod is filled with Rich Mullins, Derek Webb, Caedmon’s Call, Sara Groves, and Page CXVI.

Having said that, sometimes I think atheism makes a lot more sense than Christianity.
When I was young in the faith, I was taught to avoid atheists and their “deceptive ways.” A few nasty encounters with some obnoxious Christopher Hitchens-wannabes didn’t help my perception of atheists either. But the more I got to know a few atheists, and the more I heard their stories, the more I realized that they had a good point. In fact, within the past couple of years I’ve been having the same doubts as my atheist friends!

For example, even though the Bible has some wonderful passages about God’s love, there are some passages that make God look like an asshole. For example, Psalm 137 starts off well enough as a plea to God to save the psalmist from captivity. In fact, the first part of Psalm 137 serves as the basis for the old reggae song “By the Rivers of Babylon.” But then the psalm takes a bizarre left turn at verse nine: “Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.” Doesn’t really fit in with the whole “pro-life” thing, does it?

Then there are all the anti-gay clobber passages: Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:18-32, I Corinthians 6:9, etc. As a bisexual man, I’m always running against these passages whenever I try to validate my presence in the Church. Sometimes I wonder if it would make more sense to just switch religions.
Then there’s the Church’s spotted history: the Inquisition, the Crusades, the Salem Witch Trials, Manifest Destiny, slavery, segregation, sexism, etc. Things haven’t gotten any better, unfortunately. Just take a look at the current war on contraceptives, the anti-gay marriage movement, the pushback against evolution, the abstinence-only movement . . . well, you get the idea.

So why do I still keep coming back to church? Why can’t I just accept the fact that religion does more harm than good, and then move on?

For one, there are my friends Terry and Rebecca, a tattooed married Georgia couple that collects clothes in their van for the homeless. They don’t just talk about loving people—they actually do it!

Then there are Tripp and Bo at Homebrewed Christianity, who talk about how God is healing this broken world through us.

Then there’s Rachel Held Evans, whose recent Week of Mutuality showed how Christianity can give women dignity.

Then there’s my boyfriend, Sean, who is still a Christian even after coming out of the closet.

These are just a few examples of some of the awesome people I’ve met over the years who have shown me a different side to Christianity. They make me want to believe that God is good, and that religion doesn’t have to poison everything. So that’s why I haven’t left the Church yet; somewhere in the back of my mind I think that maybe, just maybe, there’s still hope left for Christianity.

I hope I’m not wrong.

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  • http://notascientist.wordpress.com/ NotAScientist

    “They make me want to believe that God is good, and that religion doesn’t have to poison everything.”

    Obviously I’m looking at this from the outside, but it makes me want to believe that people are good. I just want to stop seeing any religion get the credit for the wonderful things that people do.

    • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

      I agree that people are good. And, I think yesterday’s post is a great example of the fact that religion doesn’t hold a monopoly on goodness!

    • http://twitter.com/tmamone Travis Mamone (@tmamone)

      Good point, NotAScientist. I often wonder if the examples I mention in this blog post are good examples of what religion can do, or if they are just good people and religion has nothing to do with it.

      I once heard John Lennon say that he believed God isn’t a conscious being, but more like an energy force, like electricity. It can be used for good, like powering your house. Or it could be used for evil, like an electric chair. So maybe that’s the case here with religion.

      • http://notascientist.wordpress.com/ NotAScientist

        I think it’s not about religion at all. It’s about the ability to form people into groups and organizations. Religion is quite good at that, but it’s had a bit of a monopoly for a long time.

        • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

          I personally think maybe it’s a little bit organizing and a little bit energy like Travis said. Whether that energy is from a conscious/unconscious God or just something perceived as energizing, religion can be a pretty powerful motivator for good or evil. Good thoughts, you two!

          • Alex H.

            I think history makes it pretty obvious that people can be good or evil, and religion can encourage people towards good or evil, depending on what they take from it. For me, though, the fact that there are a lot of positive ideas in Christianity and a lot of good people whose goodness is inspired in part by their Christian beliefs is irrelevant to the question of whether Christian claims about the nature of reality are true or not.

            I *am* a scientist, by training and inclination if not, at present, by occupation, and that means I don’t believe things because I want to believe them. I find that idea nearly incomprehensible, actually, because it contradicts what I understand the word “believe” to mean: to believe something is to be convinced by the evidence available that that thing is true. The evidence for the existence of any sort of divine being is rather spectacularly lacking.

  • abekoby

    I like this, mostly because I’m struggling with similar issues regarding faith. I don’t understand why God should exist, and I’m not even sure if it makes any difference whether one believes in God. But I still want to, and I want to believe God is much better than most make God out to be. But it’s hard sometimes. Circular thought patterns.

  • djadkins

    Good post! I’ve shared many of these same issues with religion and have only recently found myself coming back to Christianity (recently being 2 or so years). Much of the compassionate spirit I’ve found in people has drawn me back, but the even stronger force has been hope for a better Christianity. Thanks for sharing!

  • L.W. Dickel

    And then Jesus came upon his disciples and said, “What’s this shit I’ve been hearing about me being a human sacrifice for your sins!!? Who in the goddamned hell came up with that Neanderthal bullshit!!!? What are we, living in the fucking Stone Age!!!!? Blood sacrifice!!!!!!!!!!!?? Are you fucking kidding me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!??? Listen, brethren, thou can takest that pathetic, immoral, sadistic, evil, sickening, disgusting pile of Cro-Magnon donkey shit and shove it straight up thy fucking asses!!!’–Jesus Christ, the Lost Gospel.