Most Sundays I stayed home. I often relaxed and caught up on some reading. Sometimes I went for a flight in my ultralight plane. My boys seemed to take for granted that going to church is something mommies do but that daddies don’t. For some reason, however, on this particular Sunday my middle son paused and asked me why I didn’t like Jesus.
I tried to explain to my son that it wasn’t that I didn’t like Jesus. I had nothing against the gentleman. I told my son that I did not go to church because it wouldn’t be right to go there and worship Jesus as a god when I thought he was just a human being. In fact, I said, there really isn’t any convincing evidence that any god exists.
My son, perplexed, asked why I doubted that God existed.
I launched into a discourse on the history of natural theology. After a few minutes, my son gave a familiar sigh, the kind that means, “Geez, Dad, it was a simple freakin’ question. I really don’t want to stand here in the doorway for three hours while you blather on…”
Meanwhile, his mother was giving me a stern look to signal that my lecture was going to make her late for church. It was bad enough that she had to tend to the kids while I sat at home and relaxed, or went flying, or whatever. But here I was, delaying the boy while she was trying to gather all the boys into the car.
I decided to write a brief summary of my position in language my son, eight-years-old at the time, could understand. That project failed miserably. I found it impossible to explain the flaws in modern theology in terms that an elementary school child could grasp.
I nevertheless became hooked on the writing. I also developed a passion to clarify my own thinking. As Benjamin Disraeli once said, the best way to learn about a topic is to write a book about it.
Samuel Johnson was also right when he commented, “What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.” If the amount of effort poured into a book by its author dictates the intensity of the pleasure felt by the reader, then my readers can look forward to an orgasmic experience. My book, Religion Refuted, required more effort than did earning my Bachelor degree. I’m not kidding about that. This book is my opus. It’s on the topic that I care most deeply about. If this book isn’t up to snuff then it isn’t for lack of effort.
That doesn’t mean that I am sure I got everything right. Nor does it mean that the views I express in the book couldn’t be expressed more clearly or more eloquently.
My guiding principle concerning religion is simple. Each person should scrutinize the evidence for himself or herself. Don’t let your preacher or your friend or me take the driver’s seat when it comes to deciding what you believe. Some things in life you must do for yourself, such as falling in love, learning to play a musical instrument, and seeing the Grand Canyon. Never try to delegate these tasks to others.
In deciding what you should believe, it is useful to read a diversity of books about religion, each promoting a different perspective. My goal was to produce a book that those studying the question of God’s existence will find informative, stimulating, and at times maybe even amusing.
My wife of nearly 30 years, a devout Christian, actively encouraged me to publish this book. You might wonder why she would do that, given that the message of this book runs counter to her personal convictions. I don’t think she encouraged me to write the book simply because she knew it would be a big task, one that would keep me busy and out of her hair. I think she recognized my passion for the topic and thought I should share that passion with others.
And that’s why I wrote this book.