An Atheist Sermon

No hell below us, above us only sky.
- John Lennon


Jesus' scary ideas are watered down
by society's churches.
But we can still learn what he taught
if we leave religion behind.

And the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made


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

Because I believe our bad monkey behavior has no future. Many great teachers have taught this over the centuries, with the clearest message coming from my Master Jesus. As he taught long ago, it would be heartbreaking to wipe ourselves out . . . even now more than ever just as we reach the threshhold to the stars. 

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

So here I am, an atheist repeating Jesus’ message 2,000 years later. Why? Because churches are afraid to do it. They might offend society, especially the people with money and power. So they water Jesus down, adding doctrines, creeds, myths, etc.  BUT: Jesus' message is simple: 

    Our bad monkey behavior has no future. We must change in order to survive.

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. We live in a society where religion endorses, even worships wealth, racism and politics, spending a trilliion dollars per year on militarism and murder - giving out shiny buttons for killing. What kind of future is that?

Religions fabricate their own credentials. In the Old Testament - Tanakh of the Bible, the stories are crafted to create a national identity. In truth, there was no Noah, Abraham or Moses, even no slavery in Egypt, no Exodus. It was all made up. Similarly in the New Testament, the documents were made up decades, even centuries after Jesus and the story adapted to create  miracles and other credentials. The earliest gospel, Mark, orginally had no resurrection. It was modified later. The earliest NT writer, Paul, even tried to hide the teachings of Jesus as too radical. He wanted nothing to intefere with a religion which could fit into society and the empire.

The truth: You can only choose one -     Nicene Creed     versus     Sermon on the Mount
One is submitting to Constantine's imperial view of society and the universe. 
The other is a radical challenge for self guidance and caring for each other.

So I agree with Jesus that we need a new start, both as a society and as individuals. 
He saw the end of his world coming and the Romans really did destroy Jerusalem in the year 70.
Today, we can see our final ruin coming, . . . this time destroying the whole planet.

You can't fix stupid. Our only option: Change

I see 2 steps to Jesus' new start - a radical new way of saving humanity:

1 - Guide yourself from within,
           instead of being channeled by the external forces of society and religion
                change the world by changing the most difficult part - ourselves

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. Returning evil for evil, bad for bad, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, actually 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.


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

As the Master taught 2,000 years ago:    You can do this,     change:

                                   Break out of the herd  . . . make a turn . . . Take the next exit,

then:    1 -  Guide yourself from within.

           2 - be one of the new humans who go beyond the golden rule, 

   replacing evil with good wherever you go.


We can change humanity by changing ourselves, each of us one at a time
 - me and you - living radically, like the Master,
perhaps even rescuing humanity before it runs off the cliff.

Once again, Jesus' lesson is repeated, this time from the Bahai
                                          - as sung here by Shadi and her mom:

The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh:

"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"

Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart


Suggested reading:      Tolstoy: The Kingdom of God is Within You

 Book - Amazon , Commentary - Wikipedia

This is the book that launched Gandhi and MLKjr.
You will have to translate from the 1890s to today, but
It will challenge everything you were taught.

© Gareth Harris 2019                                      Email:                  See also: