An Atheist Sermon

This is dedicated to my grandfather George Adams,
              another backwoods carpenter with a radiant heart.


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


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


Why does a modern atheist like me apprentice himself to a Jewish preacher from 2,000 years ago? [ Apprentice:  someone who attaches themselves to and learns from a skilled master.]

Because I believe our bad monkey behavior has no future. Many great teachers have taught this for thousands of years, with the clearest perceptions coming from Jesus.

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 !!

Religion is a problem, not a solution. Religion is designed to benefit society's wealthy and powerful. The trappings of religion - churches, Bibles, rituals, clergy - are fabricatied to establish credentials. Research shows there was no Adam and Eve, no Noah, no Abraham, no Moses, not even an Exodus as described in the Bible. It was all made up - like the stories of Hercules, Apollo and Zeus. Similarly, there were no eyewitnesses recording the events of Jesus' life in the Gospels. It was all made up too, decades, even centuries later, and eventually twisted to become the Imperial State Religion under Constantine, not only replacing the aging greek gods but also ending the Christian Era.

Rituals can be wonderful but also dangerous. As pointed out by Sasha Sagan [Carl Sagan's daughter] in her delightful new book: “For small creatures such as we . . .” we all love rituals in our lives to observe everything from birthdays to sunsets and many religions are built on our life events - weddings, births, funerals, BUT society sensed a source of power here and it soon became misused.

Are religions our enemy? No, all contribute something to our understanding, whether Animism, Hindu, Buddha, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Bahai, or atheist like me - all contribute, but only if you do not let any religion claim to be the only way, magic or the whole truth. 

So cherish every Sufi song, every Ave Maria, every Hindu dance as your own.
They gather the hopes of our human hearts and belong to all of us. 
Here is one of the most heartfelt Aves I have ever heard:


Are Jesus' teachings lost? Not completely. Some treasures remain, but you will have really dig to search for them. Bibles and churches try to obscure Jesus because the teachings of Jesus challenge religion and society - yesterday and today. 
     Why? Because Jesus taught an unpopular idea, a challenge :


 Grow a Radiant Heart - Be one of the New Humans

There are 2 steps to this change:

1 - Guide yourself from within,
          instead of being channeled by the external forces of society and religion.
            We can change the world by changing the only thing under our control:

ourselves. Jesus called it being reborn - born again.

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 change 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.
            go beyond the Golden Rule
                forget the balance of eye for eye, tooth for tooth
                    turn the other cheek,  walk the extra mile
                        let your good fall on everyone, everywhere, 
                              like rain falls on the good Earth

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.


The messsage is simple:
                 Break out of the herd.
                    We can all become 
apprentices to Jesus' courageous ideas:

1 - Guide yourself from within

2 - Where you find evil, return good.



Imagine there's no heaven

It's easy if you try

No hell below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people living for today ...

Imagine there's no countries

It isn't hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people living life in peace ...

You may say I'm a dreamer

But I'm not the only one

I hope some day you'll join us

And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions

I wonder if you can

No need for greed or hunger

A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people sharing all the world ...

You may say I'm a dreamer

But I'm not the only one

I hope some day you'll join us

And the world will live as one

Always remember:

“Love is wise and hatred is foolish.” 
  - Bertrand Russell


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.


PS: yes, there is One More Thing that institutional religion will never tell you.

© Gareth Harris 2019                                      Email:                  See also: