/ ask / What if I believe in God, but not the Bible?

Dr. Darrel Ray is an atheist, humanist, and psychologist. He is the author of The God Virus, and specializes in issues relating to religious deconversion. [ more ]
If you have an issue relating to religion but no one to talk to, ask Dr. Ray. He doesn’t promise that he has all the answers, but hopefully he will be able to provide insight and experience that will be beneficial for both you and for the many other young people in similar situations.
Swings in the sky cp


Dear Darrel,

I subscribe to the theory of evolution, and the big bang. I view the stories of Genesis and The Great Flood as metaphorical. I am in favor of gay marriage. I also believe in God and Heaven. Can I still be considered a humanist? Do you, and atheists in general, condemn my belief in God even though we agree on pretty much everything else?

From Dr. Ray

Someone who believes in a god but not in the Bible, shares that in common with about 4 Billion other people on the planet. Buddhists, Tao, Pagans, Wicca, Hindus, and Sikh; even Mormons and Muslims don’t believe in the Bible quite like most Christians do. You are clearly not alone. On the other hand, the Humanist Manifesto III begins with the following definition: “Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.” While I am confident that you are a good person, your belief in a god and afterlife constitute a supernaturalist ideology which precludes you from being a humanist in the way that the American Humanist Association defines the word.
When religious people claim that they are humanist, they often mean is that they are not dogmatic and don’t follow (all) the rules and laws of their religion. I would rate that as a step in the right direction, but again, their belief in supernatural entities contradicts their claim to be humanists in the sense that most people use the word.
Fortunately I’m pleased to say that humanists really aren’t too into condemning people. Humanists disagree with supernaturalism, but we respect everyone’s right to believe whatever they choose to, so long as their beliefs don’t translate into preferential laws or bigotry.
From your description, you sound like a great ally for humanism. Just because we disagree on the origins of the Universe, or whether there is likely to be an afterlife, does not mean we can’t treat each other with respect and work together on common issues and problems. Just as atheists and religionists worked together to make great strides for Civil Rights in the 1960s, I would gladly walk side by side with you in a march for gay rights. I would invite you to join me at a lecture on evolutionary biology and have a cup of coffee after to talk about it. I would hope you would invite me to work on a homeless project or fundraise for Doctors Without Borders.
Just don’t ask me to donate to a religious organization; I probably would not help you there.

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