Religion has nothing at all to do with faith or God calling us. It's merely an emotional response to a variety of different human cognitive biases that lock us onto one religion or another and prevent us from thinking our way out of an absurd position. The stronger the power of our intellect - the stronger the power of the cognitive biases that bind us. The reverse is also true; the weaker the person's intellect, the weaker the strength of their cognitive biases.

 In other words it is easier for stupid people to leave a religion than for smart people. It's practically impossible for clever people to leave.

If we leave a religion it is the result of a coincidence of happenings. We leave by firstly suffering an increasing pain of cognitive dissonance as we begin to realise that Scripture appears to be faulty in certain places. We might note for example that early Genesis is nonsense, Exodus clearly never happened or we would have loads of archaeological junk in Sinai, the Sun can't stand still while the Five Kings are slain, the morality of God in the OT is not acceptable, Joshua's invasion is mostly hyperbole and this is confirmed by archaeology, large parts of the rest of the OT is hyperbole or worse, Zachariah 9-14 is written by Jeremiah, Christ never walked on water and all that sort of stuff.

But we don't accept the obvious truth in our minds, because our minds don't work that way. Instead the strength of our intellect empowers cognitive biases to attempt to fix the growing dissonance in our minds by dreaming up ever more absurd explanations (apologetics) for the problems.

See for example the superb book on this subject "Mistakes were made but not by me" By Carol Tarvis and Elliot Aronson. Listen to the podcast interview with Carol Travis at the bottom of this page.

I would like to say that after a process of time, when the pain of cognitive dissonance becomes unbearable, we overcome our cognitive biases and see the truth for what it is. But that is not how it works. Instead, we either stay in the religion to the grave, or something else happens in our lives.

That something else has to be a deeply upsetting and shocking emotional event. It can be the death of a loved one or the loss of a marriage or employment, or your home burning down, or a grave illness - it really does not matter what it is. But it has to be substantial.

The emotional shock temporarily switches the brain into survival mode and in that mode the brain deliberately suspends the operation of cognitive bias. It does that to allow the individual to substantially reassess their situation without the clouded thinking of bias. It is a survival mechanism that has been developed by Evolution to assist humans to live to reproductive age. If it did not, we might be killed as a result of faulty cognitive bias trapping us in a fatal thought process.

Once the mind remerges from the shock and has rethought its position, the cognitive biases switch back on again to protect the new conclusion. That is also an Evolutionary survival mechanism.

However during that brief window of opportunity, people who are suffering dissonance about their religion (or marriage, or employment, or friendship, or politics, or anything else for that matter) will be able to think clearly and make very substantial change in their lives with not a hint of previous bias holding them back.

THAT is when people leave a religion. That is what happened to me thirty years ago. I had doubts about my religion for fifteen years before I left. I fixed those doubts by constructing ever more elaborate explanations for the problems in Scripture. But when my marriage broke up, the shock was so great that I was able to rearrange large parts of my life without difficulty. I changed my entire outlook on life, swapped my job, dumped my religion, moved home, developed new friendships and bought a new and different kind of car. Three and a half years later I married an Australian girl and had three more wonderful children.

It was the most wonderfully liberating experience of my entire life. The pain of the shock was immense. I mean IMMENSE! But I would willingly go through it a hundred times again. An intellect freed from a lifetime of religious bias is the most wonderful gift that you could possibly imagine.

The grave is eternal. We will not live again.
I'm telling you the sad truth
my beloved brethren and sisters.
Christ's fantasy Kingdom with it's rivers of blood at his return cannot begin to compare with that magnificent reward. Eternal life spent praising a deeply evil and malevolent God, as revealed in the pages of the Bible, is an endless horror movie compared to what could be in store for us.

We have the opportunity to go to our endless deaths knowing that for a brief flash of this Universe's time we did the right thing and we tried our very best to do good.

THAT is our coming reward - and that is sufficient.

But if you can't shake yourself out of your religion; you are not going to get that reward. Because by perpetuating that religion my friend, you are stoking a delusion - and that is not good.

So that, my religious friends is your future laid out in advance for you by John Bedson. You are going to go one of two ways and I cannot predict which. Either you will be hit with your unknown and unforeseen massive shock, or you won't. If you don't get a shock powerful enough to suspend your cognitive biases then you are going to be trapped in religion to the eternal grave.
(50 Mins long)

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