An Atheist Sermon


Jesus_mac


Why is a modern atheist like me a student of a Jewish preacher from 2,000 years ago?

Because I believe our current bad monkey behavior has no future. Many great teachers have taught this over the centuries, to me the most meaningful is Jesus. It  would be heartbreaking to wipe ourselves out just as we reach the threshhold to the stars. But now that there are 8 billion of us, we consume everything in sight and threaten not only ourselves but most of the life on this planet. 

What’s wrong with this picture? What’s wrong with us? Can we be rescued from ourselves? If not, we are obviously not going to make it to the stars, perhaps not even to the end of this century !!

Religions are part of the problem, not the solution. They endorse and promote what the rulers of society want for their own benefit - wealth and wars - even at everybody else's expense. Every time religion has been put to the test - countering poverty, greed or racism, violence or militarism, it has failed.

What went wrong? Rather than teaching how we can live, religions became more concerned with creating credentials for themselves, posturing in society. Old Testament stories?: There was no Exodus, Moses or conquest of Canaan - nada. New Testament stories?: Read more carefully if you want to find Jesus amidst all the clutter and contradictions. There were no eye witness accounts, no records. In fact, the oldest gospel originally had no resurrection before it was re-edited.  These scripture credentials were added decades or even centuries later, in order to build up the power and wealth of organized religion.

I agree with Jesus that we need a new start, both as a society and as individuals.
- In his time, Jesus called his new society
the Kingdom of God and our individual change being reborn.
   He saw the end of his world order coming, and the Romans really did destroy Jerusalem in the year 70.
- Today, we too can see the end of our world coming at us, and by our own hands.
    This time we might destroy not only ourselves but even most of the life here.

 - I see 2 steps to Jesus' new start:

1 - Guide yourself from within,
           instead of being channeled by the external forces of society and religion

Yes, We created society. It took us to the Moon. BUT it also teaches greed and racism, war and militarism, mostly to benefit the wealthy. We are all part of society, but to be effective and guide society you must also have the ability to separate from it. Some break free of society. Who has this kind of courage? Jesus, Buddha, Tolstoy, Gandhi, MLKjr, Dorothy Day, Rosa Parks, Rachel Carson - You? Me? 
       Isn't it amazing how one loving heart is powerful enough to change the world?

2 - Where you find evil, return good.  

From nature, we know that like produces like. Figs produce figs. Grapes produce grapes. Apples produce apples. Similarly, Evil produces evil. War produces war. Hate produces hate. So, returning evil for evil, bad for bad, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, produces more evil in the world. As MLKjr pointed out“An eye for an eye leaves everybody blind,” but 

            by replacing evil with good, we increase good in the world, and decrease evil.

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Yes, most of religion is bogus bull. 
Even the actual teachings of Jesus are hard to find in all the clutter. 
But there is also treasure here.

The lesson is - You can do this:
      Guide yourself from within.
          Break out of the herd, 
            Take the next exit and
                  make this promise:

                  be one of the new humans, go beyond the golden rule, 

                                     replace evil with good wherever you go.

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Again, Jesus' simple lesson is repeated, this time by the Bahai:

"O SON OF SPIRIT! My first counsel is this: 
Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, 
that thine may be a sovereignty 
ancient, imperishable and everlasting"

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One more time:

Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart

1 - Guide yourself from within.

2 - Where you find evil, return good.


© Gareth Harris 2019                                      Email: garethharris@mac.com                  See also: ThinkingTalkingComputing.com