A FREE MIND

From the book Secular Nation by Thomas Vernon

There are many people who have, from time to time, been tempted to think for themselves -- who have found themselves questioning beliefs they inherited but really never examined.  This is nowhere more apt to be the case than in the area of religious beliefs.  Our religious beliefs came to us in a protective coating of age and respectability, like the invisible "force field" of science fiction.

It takes a degree of intellectual courage to penetrate this penumbra of sanctity and inspect a belief on its own merits.  Still, many people have done so.  They have found themselves asking such questions as, how do I know that this book called the Bible is the supernaturally revealed and infallible word of God?  How do I know there is even such a being as God?  How does anybody know there is such a thing as immorality?  When people begin seriously to raise questions of this sort, they find that their "faith", that is, their accustomed belief-patterns, seem increasingly insubstantial.

To lose one's faith may seem, in prospect, like being turned out of a comfortable home and left to fend for oneself in a vast and trackless waste.  Those with a persistent curiosity and adventurous spirit will never-the-less leave their cozy shelter and set out to learn for themselves what it is like "out there."  Although their first steps may be taken "in fear and trembling," they begin to find that they are not alone.  They discover stalwart companions.  They learn, indeed that they are "compassed about" with a "cloud of witnesses."  As their minds become strengthened by use, they begin to see what others have seen, that their "spiritual home" was in reality a prison; its walls were built of ignorance and fear, and reinforced by habit and custom.

No one is kept in this prison but by oneself; it is a prison where every inmate is his or her jailer.  Everyone, aware of it or not, already has the key that will unlock the door: the freedom to seek the truth.

See http://www.atheistfellowship.com


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