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Friday, April 13, 2012

If You Don't Believe in the Bible or God, Shut Up About It

After openly moving out of Christianity and becoming an agnostic, concluding that the Bible is nothing more than a fascinating mess of paper and ink, I have been asked the following question again and again:

"Why do you bother talking about God or the Bible when you don't even believe in it?"

Actually, it usually doesn't come in the form of a nice question but rather an angry command to quiet my voice.  Of course, I won't pretend that what I write has much of an influence outside of the few who read it, but you would think, by the potency of the words coming at me, I was akin to the Anti-Christ.

I'm not going to lengthily address the question of why people might do this because the answer to that is quite simple.  When someone is wholly devoted to something that completely defines their life, or more importantly, defines their life after death, anything that questions the logic of the crumbling pillars that props that something up needs to be beaten back and silenced.  I love the debate and find that the fight keeps me alive and well.

But, do I write about religion, the Bible, and God because I like to enrage believers?  Do I do it because poking people in the eye gives me pleasure?  Am I a narcissist that tries to belittle everyone who does not see life my way?  At points in my life, sometimes daily, the answers to all the questions above is a resounding "yes"!  But that is not my underlying reason for why I address the subject.

Let's turn the question around.

Why does a Christian, who thinks that all people who are not Christians, are going to hell anyway, not want someone questioning, reasoning, and logically working through the questions that might lead them back into the fold?!  After all, those good Christian folks who are doing all the yelling would be the first to tell me that my non-god is going to send me to hell.  And they do a fine job of it.  But why do they bother talking to me about my non-belief when they are not non-believers?  Makes sense, right?

Ignoring the hell concept, other Christians despise people like me because my voice is out there leading other Christians astray.  Really?!  If that is going to be your argument, I can think of two very fundamental reasons why you should not attack me with that argument.

First, if I, a mere mortal, am splashing my uneducated words onto an electronic page, and God, an omnipotent, omniscient being, does not have the power to render my words meaningless to those that he desires to be with him in heaven, I think that says more about your god than the power of my words.  Words do hold power, but only inasmuch as they form a coherent thought.  If my thoughts are coherent (logical) and the Christian's thoughts are as well, what is the problem with pitting them against each other and having the debate?

Secondly, being that I simply ask people to think logically about what they are believing, using logic, anecdotes, reason, Scripture, common sense, and other sources for my material, trying to silence me plays a hand that I would think no Christian, in these modern times, would want to be associated with - that in order to become and stay a Christian, one has to suspend all reason.

If I conclude that the Bible is silly, argue why it is not.  But if I am concluding that the Bible is indeed silly, don't argue with me by throwing verses my way about how all god haters will go to hell.  I know the Bible.  I was forced to read it from cover to cover, scores of times while growing up, not to mention, the Holy Bible, in all forms, is available for free online, twenty-four hours a day.

Let's have a conversation, not a slinging of mud.  We both have the ability to type.  I use two fingers to do it.  Let's do it well.

Love,

I.C.

6 comments:

  1. Wow. Good stuff and great point. I am personally fully convinced of the reality of God, but it pains me that there are a load of people who are so afraid their faith might be shaken that they don't really understand the complexity of life and relationships, let alone the truth of what you've just said. If God is real, he can defend himself, and we don't have to shush up our questions for fear of offending him (unless you worship some sort of Greek or mythical deity, of course). I think God can handle honest searching-I rather think he prefers it to blind faith or Pharisaicalism-, and I prefer to hear athiests being real than Christians being afraid to think outside their box of religious thought. Keep writing and thinking, and thank you for this!

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    1. " I am personally fully convinced of the reality of God, but it pains me that there are a load of people who are so afraid their faith might be shaken..."

      I am slowly becoming convinced that MOST of the people who go to church are NOT fully convinced of the reality of God. I get you. I am 100% convinced, based on experiential knowledge, that God exists, that He is infinitely loving, good, and ginormously B-I-G. And so, once I experienced this phenomenon, being an American and having experienced it while calling on the name of Jesus, eventually high-tailed it to church and went every time the door was open. It sounded like we were all talking about the same thing, the being I know as Jesus and the Jesus revealed in the gospels line up pretty close.

      What I didn't realize, is that the HUGE majority of these folks absolutely have no idea of who Jesus really is. They claim "the Bible" is Jesus. Uh, nope, not even close. They really worship the Bible and the institution of modern Christianity.

      So, I think that's why they are so afraid. They are starting to realize that what they have been taught about obeying the Bible and propping up religion with their tithes, time and minds is bankrupt. And since they also believe that changing their minds about that means they will burn in hell, according the their church's interpretation of the Bible, they are scared! They rush to silence the logic coming from others precisely because they DON'T KNOW Jesus in a real and personal way.

      It is my hope the fear will send them on a search for the truth, and however that is revealed to them, that they will then walk in the light of that reality. For many, it may be that human love is the highest expression of divinity on earth. Jesus said as much. Living a life of love would help us all, but then the churches would become poor and eventually abandoned.

      Monday morning before coffee ramblings....

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  2. Good thoughts, and right on track.

    I'm not much on in-depth reasoning myself, but any Christian who is afraid TO question himself, afraid OF questions from others, and feels threatened by people like you...

    well, they probably need to actually think a little about what their faith is truly based on. =)

    (mmm, yeah for the benefit of others- I'm a missionary, too.)

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    1. Agreed! On what plank does your (not you personally but the general "you") faith rest? Is it the understanding of "There is no way to God but through Christ" that means one must be christian in order to be saved from hell? Is it the existence of hell--eternal tortured misery for those who are not christians?

      Must God be viewed as a trinity? Must one *believe* in the proper way, get all the theology correct, in order to truly be christian/saved?

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  3. Oy--sorry. I didn't complete my thought, earlier, about the "plank" on which one's faith rests. The idea is that any one of these ideas (or a completely different one, of course)--that there may not be a place of eternal torment for non-believers, for example--is unacceptable because if there is no hell as you understand it, your faith is somehow threatened.

    Or the idea that if God is not a trinity, you suddenly lose your faith. I remember the first time I heard something termed a "dangerous idea" in church. If an *idea* threatens your faith, what is your faith really rooted in, in the first place?

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  4. If you can't question your beliefs, if you can't laugh at them, you aren't taking them seriously enough.

    But seriously, you can't say that the Bible is silly. It says right in the Bible that it should be taken seriously. (I have never managed to understand how anyone can think that logic works, and yet I've seen it multiple times).

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