Q: Religion is slavery! You become automatons, incapable of enjoying life's pleasures

If you live near Pakistan and you tell them you've become a Christian, you may lose your job, your house, and maybe your life. But hey - there are no countries where you get punished for LEAVING Christianity. We're actually free, to believe or not.

In our country you can be forced to join the union, at work. (You'll be fired if you refuse.) But nobody ever makes you join a church.

But you religious nuts can't stop! It's an addiction. You're helpless, like alcoholics and smokers. As Karl Marx said, it's "the opium of the masses".

The DSM4 defines "addiction" as something you can't stop, but want (and need) to stop because it's damaging you. Most smokers will tell you sadly "I wish I could stop".

But when did you ever hear a Christian say that? We're not helpless - we're having a wonderful time doing what we want. And it's not damaging us. We actually live longer!

Ah, but you're not free - you're slaves to fear! Terrified of this mythical "Jealous God".

Yes.  You're right ... for some religions. They say you'll go to "Hell" (Hades, Gehenna, Sheol, whatever) if you're not a good boy. Jesus himself told religious leaders "You scour the earth to find one convert, and then you make his life twice as miserable" (with all your regulations and fears).

But what does Jesus offer? "God sent Jesus to die for us, so that we have been made right in God's sight. We have been restored to friendship with God, by the death of His Son, and will certainly avoid eternal punishment." Jesus has paid the price, suffered in Hell for us, we are forgiven and won't go there.

So no, we aren't terrified! We won't go to hell, even if we don't behave well. We don't act out of fear - we act out of GRATITUDE, for the amazing thing that Jesus has done for us.

Well, I still say you're fanatics. You're indoctrinated, unbalanced, driven - you can't think about anything else - you have no choice.
It's true. We want to love and serve God, and to love his children all round us (God's command) . And we really enjoy doing it. But does that make us fanatics?

Maybe the reverse is true?  Atheists have no God, so who controls what they do? They just "follow their desires", right? Doesn't that make them slaves to their desires? Aren't they driven, by hunger, and lust, and curiousity, and envy ... "Everyone who sins is a slave to sin".  Maybe it's the atheists who have no choice?

A great philosopher, Hobbes, thought so. He said that Man is so driven by his appetites that there is no such thing as free will. We are like animals, doomed to follow our instincts, not free.

But you religious nuts miss all the fun in life! You're so puritanical.

At our university H was a medical student, tall and athletic. He drank and partied, always had an attractive girlfriend, and had sex with all of them - until they got boring. He ended up deciding that women were unimportant, and put all his energy into his work. He still has a girlfriend now and then.

E was a science student, and a Christian. He met and courted a beautiful girl, remained chaste, took her to all sorts of fun places, got to know her family, bought her a ring, and at the end of his course married her, bought a home, and started a family.

So which one "missed all the fun in life"? Which one would you rather be? Who has the best memories?

Well, I still say that you Christians are controlled, not free. At least *I* run my own life, however I please.

Someone said life is like driving a car. When you decide to follow Jesus, you have to move over! He gets in the driver's seat, and you sit next to him. He drives for you.

And it's different, that's true. There are attractive side-streets that you no longer explore, because he knows a better way. But guess what? You end up actually getting to where you want to be. Far from "giving up things", you end up with even more good things.

This mystery is neatly put in an old Anglican prayer which says "... In Whose service is perfect freedom". As Jesus put it, "If you follow Me, you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free".

Christianity looks like becoming a servant. But when you try it, you end up a son and heir!

The GodOrNot team.