I eventually ended up quitting the religion and becoming pagan.
The funny thing was, I spent just as much time arguing with people as a pagan as I had as a Christian. And I had just exactly the same results; nobody listened, it just pissed everyone off. (Debate rule number one: You will never convince someone who doesn't already want to be convinced.) I had in essence made myself into a pagan fundamentalist.
It took a few years -- okay several years -- but eventually I realized that it wasn't the faith that I had a problem with, it was the fundamentalism. In other words, it was the "I'm right, you're wrong" attitude that has infected every religion to one extent or another. You could even argue that this attitude has infected nearly every aspect of life (Ever meet anyone devoted to a particular brand of product? Yes, I'm guilty of that as well ... Made on a Mac).
I recently saw the movie "Religulous," by Bill Maher, and he makes many good points. But I see two problems, both of which are implied by this quote from the movie:
"Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don't have all the answers to think that they do." - Bill MaherThe first problem I see is that he is making the same mistake that I did, Maher has become a fundamentalist of his own point of view. He goes to length to explain that his philosophy is of the "I don't know" variety. But there is apparently one thing that he does know: People of faith are wrong.
Which leads into the second problem, which isn't a problem with the movie so much as it is with those people of faith. The Bible says in the book of Hebrews that faith is the evidence of things not seen, the substance of things hoped for.
But modern people of faith seem to have forgotten this in their rush to declare that they "know." And just "knowing" a thing isn't so bad either. The problems begin when a person that "knows" something finds out that other people don't necessarily "know" the same thing, and in fact some of these other people might even "know" something entirely different.
Faith is really not the problem, what people "know" is.
Bill Maher "knows" that people of faith are wrong and made an entire movie dedicated to proving his point and making those people look like fools. And what are the results? People who agree with Maher will get to sit back and chuckle at the comedian's cleverness, and people of faith will be insulted and not hear a word of the message that Maher was trying to convey. A message that I believe, despite it's poor presentation, is very important. A message that I believe Maher himself has missed entirely.
The message being that people should be free to believe whatever they like. And until we all realize this and quit trying to force everyone to believe like we do ... we will never have peace.