By guest author Dennis Lurvey
The Invention of “Spirit”
I don’t know what “spiritual growth” is. There is no part of the brain for “spirit”, it doesn’t show up in a fMRI of the brain working in real time, and nobody has found an internal walkie-talkie to any outsiders, gods or otherwise, in our bodies or brains – so the talking and hearing “god” must be completely internal.
There are no offices for faith healers in hospitals, no storage rooms for wheelchairs abandoned by cripples who magically got up and walked out of them because some “spirit” stripped them of their disabilities. Any testimony of a spirit is by people who already believed in “the Holy Spirit” and assumed that’s what moved them or talked to them.
Elohim was a “spirit” but YHWH was a “god” in the bible, who wanted things done in a particular way. That way happens to conform perfectly with the way certain men – those who invented and wrote down the concept of YHWH – thought we should act, which is just like them. Those men had not yet realized that drinking wine made people think strange thoughts and feel brave enough to write them down and tell other people they were absolutely true.
In the fourth century most priests didn’t believe that Jesus was a deity; maybe a special man, but not God. Constantine, the leader of Rome at the time, needed it resolved so that everyone in Rome could come together under one religion and one belief about it. In Nicaea he brought the priests and bishops together to make a decision about what they would teach the Roman people about Jesus.
They, a bunch of men, came up with the Trinity at that counsel meeting: the Father, Son, and “Holy Spirit”. The “one God”, the only true god, they said (as they named it “the three”). That’s when “spirit” was invented for Christians, somewhere in Turkey. They didn’t believe it themselves. They just decided that’s what they should teach us so we wouldn’t fight over it later.
Leaving the Burden Behind
Raised in a Baptist family, I am familiar with all the explanations for it. I was most “spiritual” just before I became an atheist. Looking toward the Bible I learned there was the “spirit” that made the snake and the bush talk, turned Lot’s wife turn into salt, told Abraham to slaughter all the Canaanites, and told Noah to build a boat while the rain came down and the rest of humanity was killed –because they didn’t love the “spirit” properly and God decided they needed to die.
I read a story of a Muslim woman who finally gave up her hijab and walked out of her house without it for the first time, and realized no one really missed it but her. No one was ogling her, lusting for her, like she was taught they would. There was something missing: the guilt she thought she would feel. My experience was similar.When I finally made the decision that God was just a character in a book and nothing else, I had the task of walking out of my house without the idea that a “spirit” was watching/judging, and seeing how my day would be different out in the world. Would I think or believe any differently? Would I treat people any differently? The answer to those questions was YES.
All that overthinking was just a distraction and a burden. The way we treat people is natural to us from birth and certainly natural to me, if I simply left that burden behind. When I saw people cringe or hurt I felt it too, and I made judgments about what made them hurt, and hurt me too, and I wondered what I could do to help. In fact, any thoughts about whether I should feel one way or another about the way people believed or looked went out the window completely, with no one watching. It has simply been humans interacting with humans ever since, loving each other, for no reason other than it comes naturally to us (once we get out of our own way).
Just think about who writes the books and makes the “rules” for us. Mostly fringe people with conspiracy theories and huge egos. Pastors who believe they hear what God really wants and media people who tell us we have to believe those people or die. It takes a huge ego to believe your way is the only way and write it down for others to follow (as the Bible writers did), and it takes strong government to tell their populations to worship that god and make worship of other gods illegal under threat of death (under the guise of bringing their populations together under one religion).
That’s what happened with the Bible and the Roman Empire. In the 4th century Constantine made Christianity the only religion legal to practice, and destroyed the pagan temples and texts. When Rome failed in the sixth century the rest of Europe followed suit and we got things like the Spanish inquisition and the dark ages (where all other ideas were burned and the people who believed them killed). England adopted a government religion as did Spain, Italy, and other European countries like Poland.
Christianity and Catholicism were the winners – and here we are now. Judaism was never pushed by government and it’s a 5% religion, Christianity was promoted and required by government and it’s at best a 70% religion in the USA and under 50% in most of Europe. In countries where they have church rule it’s 85% but dying (eg. Argentina). A recent article says in England less than 2% of young people belong to the government religion. The end is near.
We have to admit what happened and get out from under it. We were raised with beliefs that were never allowed to be questioned before 200 years ago. In fact, some states had blasphemy laws until 75 years ago that said you can’t question the existence of God. Some states still have them on the books but can’t enforce them.
We were duped, conned, hit with the biggest conspiracy theory ever sold, and we need to quit. We were all born with hearts, minds, feelings, compassion, and empathy for others. We don’t need lists from old books to keep us from robbing banks and raping. The reason we don’t do those things is because they hurt other people and that makes us hurt. Instinctively we know those things are wrong. We live and love and do no harm because that’s what makes us human. That’s the human part of us come to life.