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Waiting for God, Do’h!

Recently, my blogging co-pilot John wrote a great article on how some of his friends took the news of his newly found atheism.  They were heartbroken, and John does an excellent job describing this in the context of Hell and how this threat of eternal separation affects those we care about.  But it’s not just an eternity of separation in hell that saddened his friends when they heard the news.  There’s another component as well.  I want to share with you a little play to illustrate the point.

Albert and Cameron (ages 30 and 31), two friends since middle school, bump into each other.  Both are waiting at a bus stop.

Al:  Cameron, how are you!  So good to see you! At the risk of over narrating, I’d say it’s been many months since we’ve seen each other!

Cameron:  Indeed it has. How’ve you been doing?

Al:  Well, honestly…I’ve been doing FANTASTIC.  Life is good; I feel free.  It’s like I’m thinking clearly for the first time in my life.  All the stress and psychological torment that used to bother me has just melted away.  Does that make sense?

Cameron:  Uh, not really.  What’s going on?  What’s changed?

Al:  Meth. I’m hear to tell you straight up, Cameron.  I need you to know, because we are old friends. Meth is awesome.  I’m getting more done at work.  I’ve don’t have to sleep anymore.  It’s seriously worth it.  I know what you’re going to say, I’m giving up a lot to pursue this path, but I’m telling you.  Life-changing.

Cameron:  Wow, uh…I had no idea.  Aren’t you worried about what your wife is going to think?  Wow. I don’t know what to say….

Al:  Oh, Samantha?  She loves Meth too!  It’s kind of drawn us closer actually.

Cameron:  Well, I guess I’m happy for you?  Oh….I think I hear my phone ringing.  (Answers phone) Buy! Sell!  Trade for some stocks that will be worth more in the future than they are now!  (Whispers while covering phone) …Sorry this is my mom I have to take it….

END SCENE

It is not possible for a christian to be happy for an atheist in his or her decision.  Their friend has made a life choice which is so fundamentally incompatible with their worldview that it is impossible to support in any way.  Here is a quick and dirty list of the things that Christians have exclusive rights to that their friend has just been alienated from:

Eternal Salvation, True Peace, True Joy, True Love, True Wisdom.

Christians claim an exclusive link to the “true” forms of these characteristics.  So, it’s no wonder that when their friends are cut off from those, then of course, that must sadden them.  They know how this is going to end for their friend.  The high you might be feeling now is going to come crashing down…

But it does more than that.  If you tell your christian friend you’re an atheist, the best thing that can happen for the christian is that you bottom out like a drug addict.  If meth didn’t cause psychosis and force you to look like an extra in the Walking Dead, it’d be sold at Wal-Mart, and we’d have it at Thanksgiving dinner with a side of cranberries.  Atheism must have side effects, or else it’s might just be a fun thing to do. So christians will need to look for side effects and this does two things:  Supports their worldview that everyone needs Jesus; that their exclusive hold on happiness and joy is true.  Plus, it gets you humbled and back on the path to god.

What’s worse is that for many atheists, christians actually have the power to bottom them out.  They aren’t simply content to sit by and watch. They take active roles.  In America, christianity is the dominant worldview (in some parts more than others of course).  They are friends, parents, co-workers, and bosses.  They all have the power to inflict social, economic, and psychological pressure.  It’s like an episode of Intervention.  The ultimatum: either get on the metaphorical bus waiting outside to take you to god, or risk losing their respect, love, time, and support.  So what’s it gonna be? The bus or breaking bad?

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About jesuschristpooperstar

Just a couple of bros.

9 responses »

  1. This post is brought to you by the fine folks at AMC and their well respected programming. Please tune in every Sunday!

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  2. I’m curious if you think the “intervening” that takes place in the last paragraph is intentional, subconscious, or a combination of the two. I blame the religion for most of this, as opposed to blaming the religious. Do you as well? That said, I have met believers who I felt were certainly capable of being that obnoxious kind of person who would put the spurs to god’s vengeance and make the outsider’s life miserable as well. I just choose to give those who I think are simply doing so unconsciously the benefit of the doubt.

    I really find the initial concept interesting though. When I look at Creationism, it’s easy to see that the religious are happy to stuff the ballot box of results-based analysis. It’s just so incredibly unfortunate that so much religion forces people to begin with a conclusion and work their way back to the evidence. That’s the problematic style of thought that takes us out of conversation with one another over and over.

    And if I declare that I am an atheist, and then subsequently live a happy, fulfilled life, then I become evidence that needs to be dealt with. And it can’t change the conclusion for the religious.

    So the believer, who is my friend, has to look at me, happy as a clam, and find a way that that makes sense for an already determined conclusion. Am I headed for a fall? Cruisin’ for a bruisin’? Am I deluding myself? Secretly miserable and too prideful to return home to my eternal father? Is it biblical that I’m happy, and the christian is simply walking the narrow, difficult road? Or do you just disavow me… just drift apart from me as the way I choose to live my life makes you miserable in a way that’s difficult to define?

    Who knows? But IF you are a christian approaching your faith reasonably, (that is, by making logical conclusions based on what you read in your Bible and are told on Sundays… (see how hard I just worked to avoid typing the phrase “good christian?”)) you must “deal” with me in your mind. There must be some catch. I can’t just enjoy meth and be happier and more fulfilled with it in my life. Otherwise YOU’VE been missing out. Otherwise you… might be wrong.

    And that brings us back to the fangs. The Tyger Tyger ain’t havin’ any of that. It’s built itself into your brain in such a way to help you on this one. It’s not going to let you fall away because you couldn’t find a way to throw out some simple anecdotal evidence. There are verses to help you. Half the proverbs are about people being foolish in wisdom and happiness and then arriving at a horrible fall just around the corner. These are just a couple of responses I’ve heard that I consider “Dealt with” responses. That is, they show that the christian is successfully “dealing” with the evidence of me…

    “I want to see where you land in ten years.”

    “I don’t think you were ever really a christian.”

    “I don’t understand why god still even wants you because of your arrogance and pride, but he loves you so much… and he does still want you…” (thanks?)

    Anyway, great stuff man. What are your thoughts on my thoughts?

    -John with an H.

    Reply
    • Absolutely. I agree that with most people, it’s not sinister overt pressure (although I think you and I both personally know a few people like that). Most of it is subconscious. My view on psychology and personal agency are definitely running under the hood of this post, and aren’t explicitly stated. My understanding of people is basically that we all have a program running and it generates and identifies what’s in our best interest, based on the values and data that we have provided it throughout our lives. Then, after this programming hits on a course or direction, THEN we tell ourselves a story about how to best go in that direction. People’s opinions of global warming are a good example. Most people aren’t scientists and aren’t educated about it. However, if there are incentives for some to not believe in it, such as being seen as less gullible and more electable, then people will choose that side simply because it affords them more power or respect. Never once bothering to observe facts to make the decision. The incentives make the decision, THEN facts support the decision we make. Now all that to say, we KNOW this about ourselves, and science is a great example of protecting ourselves from these flaws to a certain extent. Trying to disprove your hypothesis is a counterbalance to our natural inclination to overweight our own theories as true, because the incentive is too great to discover a breakthrough.
      As you said, the church has countless, “come up with an explanation and then work backwards to find some facts”. And I would say that’s our natural inclination.
      SO, that takes us back to an atheist “coming out”. The story that works in the christians best interest is that you are lost/blind and they are found/sighted. So, they are bound to look for data that supports this storyline, through confirmation bias. It’s like when women were first breaking into the workplace. Men used RAH-diculous reasons to exclude women. “See this is why women shouldn’t work” was used in response to women needing to leave work to pick up their kids from school (and the men certainly weren’t gonna do it!) or because men can’t control sexual urges or all women are too emotional and can’t take feedback. Men with power naturally found any reason at all to discourage women, because it was in their best interest to lower the amount competition for powerful positions by limiting possible applicants to only those with Y chromosomes. Facts come second. That’s my new phrase.

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  3. Reading you alls post Is a guilty pleasure. However almost every post makes a generalization about Christians, in doing so you flip the generalization back upon yourself in your enlightenment. You end up falling into the role of witty one liners to show how much smarter you are. As in politics, religion can be discussed respectfully where both sides have the opportunity to learn something new ( ie me and brian Davis, opposite sides of the political spectrum but enjoy one another’s views). This post however sends you to the opposite side to chuck insults at those with differing views (you’ve in essence become the opposite side of a two party political system where the other side is wrong because that is the only way a two party system works). But in real life even libertarians can agree with liberals about military spending and gay rights. Does that make sense? Just a random thought after a 15 hour work day, so I hope is is coherent.

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    • Let me also follow up and say that I think that I listened and really heard John this past weekend. I feel like I know him better, where he is coming from. I feel like most heard you but then I feel like maybe if one person didn’t then somehow the rest of us get lumped in to the same group as not understanding. I believe you all have heard both side and have come to your own conclusions just as I and many others have. I don’t feel a need to judge to fix anything. As a Christian we are encouraged to share the gospel not force anyone to live a way they don’t believe in. I simply don’t like being stereotyped as a closed minded person just like you all don’t want to be labeled as a cause for Christians to fix.

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      • The point I was going for was that christianity forces christians into being sad that someone isn’t christian anymore. For lots of reasons, not just hell, but also for “spiritual” reasons as well. I would be greatly surprised if most of John’s friends weren’t sad. My point is that this is the natural, human, empathetic response. I don’t think john’s friends to be close minded because they care about him, but christianity is inherently exclusive. I think the bible is pretty clear that jesus came to bring the sword, that no man can come to the father except through him, he’s the gate, peace that passes all understanding, etc. Personally, I think I took a reasonable position. (which I tried, and probably failed to make humorous with jokes). Christianity is incompatible with being happy for an atheist leaving the church. Honestly, if that premise is false, and there is a circumstance where a christian could genuinely be happy for someone who (in their worldview) is now separated from the one true purpose in life (to glorify god) especially in light of the fact that our span of life is less than a millisecond with respect to eternity. I’d like to know about it, and understand that perspective. I do appreciate your thoughts on the matter, especially after that long of a day of work. Thanks for taking time to write it. Sorry to overgeneralize christians. I completely agree with you that I do that, however, it is under the assumption that christians have core shared principles such as; the belief of eternal souls, salvation through faith in god, and that this faith brings about joy, peace, and eternal life in heaven. These principles lead christians to similar outcomes and responses. I genuinely have family members who I am very nervous about discussing this topic with, as do, I’m sure, many others. This is not an abstract concept in theory. I know friends and family who can’t or are afraid to talk to their loved ones about this because of social pressure and shame that they will face. Anyway, something to think about. I think it’s great when people such as yourself read things they don’t necessarily agree with, I like to think that’s fighting confirmation bias a bit. Thanks again Steven.

    • Steven, it’s Jon’s post, so he’ll have to respond directly, to your thoughts on his post, but I’ll respond on my thoughts, and I’d be interested to know your thoughts on my previous post, and especially on this weekend and talking openly about my de-conversion. I did however, like Jon’s post and agree with most of it. I don’t think it was meant to generalize, but it becomes tiresome to say “some” christians every time instead of just saying “believers tend to,” or some version thereof. Suffice to say that we’re speaking of tendencies and some of the behaviors we’re talking about aren’t universal. We should be mindful of that (and we try to be) as we write, as best we can. I can’t speak for Jon, but I’ll say for myself that I generally like most christians. I generally don’t like christianity. The people are good. And not dumb, or foolish. I have articles of clothing I last wore as a christian– it wasn’t that long ago. So it’d be hypocritical for me to think less of anyone for their belief.

      Last week I didn’t really go in with the mindset that I would talk on and on about my atheism till I was blue in the face, and I was a little self-conscious that I was becoming that guy that won’t shut up about his new beliefs. I hope I wasn’t obnoxious, lol. But I did go in thinking that a lot of my old friends who haven’t seen me in awhile will be there, and will ask what I’m doing and where I am. And when the honest answer to a question would reveal my atheism, I would give that answer openly, and then be open about my new beliefs.

      I was nervous about that. I know you, and Brian, and Chris, and I expected you guys to be respectful and I know you guys are my brothers and are full of love. And you didn’t disappoint one bit, you guys were and are awesome, and I’m really lucky to have friends like you. And other guys like Todd and Kenny I don’t know really well, but I had some faith that they’d either be respectful or that I could handle myself, and they were awesome as well. I say again, I love christians. I don’t like christianity.

      In my last post where I mentioned someone describing my new beliefs as “heart-wrenching,” I’m not offended by that response. Like I said, I’m okay with that, that’s an honest, and a reasonable response. In the post I talked about that. (It’s important to me that it be known that this week Christians who I spoke to were 100% awesome to me.) My post was absolutely NOT intended to be a bashing post. My post was anger towards “god” and religion, for putting this difficult strain between and my friends. For making MY abandonment of god a pain to my friends, and a hurt towards them. I hate that my friend feels pain for my decision, because I love my friend, and it angers me towards religion that it puts that pain there. But I understand it.

      Of everything I’m saying, those last two paragraph are really important to me for everyone to know. No one last week was ANYTHING but good and gracious towards me.

      Now, you say that religion, like politics, can be disagreed upon and still discussed respectfully. I’m dismayed you don’t think that’s being accomplished as well, because that’s a major goal of this blog. We have, at times, I believe, achieved it. But it’s an ongoing goal, and this post is not meant to be insulting. The one-liners we use are meant to be taken lightly, but the truth in them to be understood as well.

      I hope THIS also comes off as coherent… I’m glad you posted, Steven, I’ve been wondering about your thoughts. You’re a good friend, and I know you come by your beliefs honestly. I believe I’ve come to a life-changing new understanding of the world around me, and I want to share that. What others do with it is for them to decide. My goal isn’t to insult, and I know Jon’s isn’t either. It’s to challenge. Brian and I had great discussion on our way to the airport and I think we both came away better for it. That’s always been our goal for this blog. (But we WILL de-convert you if we think we have a chance. That’s just how we roll…)

      -JWAH.

      P.S. Jump into these blogs and discussions anytime. I enjoy it.

      Reply
      • Jon said:

        “Absolutely. I agree that with most people, it’s not sinister overt pressure (although I think you and I both personally know a few people like that). Most of it is subconscious. My view on psychology and personal agency are definitely running under the hood of this post, and aren’t explicitly stated. My understanding of people is basically that we all have a program running and it generates and identifies what’s in our best interest, based on the values and data that we have provided it throughout our lives. Then, after this programming hits on a course or direction, THEN we tell ourselves a story about how to best go in that direction.”

        I still can’t speak for Jon, but this sums it up pretty well. We’re actually talking largely about ALL people here… of ALL belief systems and non-belief systems. And Jon and I included. Our tendency to be manipulated by our own thoughts and be driven by our own motivations without realizing it. I love thinking about these things… What drives us… ALL of us, to act as we do. Steven, I think this is the meat of what Jon is driving at. Christians do some things… Believers do some things… ALL of us do some things… And it’s sort of a combination of what happens when this weird thing, religion, hits our built-in weird thing, psychology. Jon and I think the religion is actually kind of nasty and has a weird effect on the psychology. It’s not a reflection on everyone. It’s tendencies and behavior, and patterns.

        This is some good-ass blogging, right here! I’m digging it.

        -JWAH

  4. I will comment briefly on both of the last two posts in one reply since I’ve already taken the time to get back to you about your previous article.

    Both posts address the same issue, really. The relationship between believer and non-believer and the stress that arises from the concern felt by both parties. Just a moment ago I replied to Jon or John (sorry I can’t remember) about the charge of psychological abuse when it comes to raising children within a belief system. I bring it up here not to delve into it but to simply juxtapose it with the believer’s concern for the “everlasting soul” of the non-believer. We both have concerns. You believe, if I can place you firmly within what seems to be the neo-atheist, or militant-atheist camp (that’s not a knock, just a qualifier), that religion is a sort of widespread psychological disorder left over from man’s evolutionary journey in dealing with the unexplained, mysterious and fearful elements of his surroundings. If so, it would be abuse to raise children with fears they need not have only to create psychological disturbances down the road. The believer sees the non-believer in danger of missing out on the sole purpose of life and also a continuation of that life for “ever and ever”. Whether that be a timeless eternity or, as some people have put it, “loads and loads of more time”.

    So we both have concerns for the other party. And we both feel that the other party is, in some way or many ways, doing damage to the human race by pursuing and propagating the beliefs we hold.

    All that is to say, it’s not one-sided. This isn’t inherent to religion. It’s inherent to truth. In one of your responses you said, “but christianity is inherently exclusive”. Agreed. As is truth. Any truth. It has to be or it would not be truth. Truth is inherently exclusive. If you don’t believe this then try to tell me that 2 + 2 = 5. I will point out how you are wrong and your statement will be EXCLUDED from the circle of truth as false.

    If you are right, then you have the truth and my beliefs are excluded. I am a child-abuser and a peddler of cheap tricks piping my way to the edge of the mountain with a train of little children in tow to be thrown off of into the abyss of psychological pain and anguish where there will be great weeping and gnashing of teeth (I don’t know of any good atheist who feels the need to gnash their teeth – Christians have EXCLUSIVE rights to this as well).

    I may start a blog soon to expound on the emotional anguish I feel because I am considered so horribly wrong for being a Christian by atheists who exclude my beliefs from their circle of truth. That hurts, you know. (I hope that comes off light-hearted. I just want to be clear that I’m using humor as you are.)

    Also, that was an EXTREMELY clever use of both modern and classic art in your post. To tie Breaking Bad, Waiting For Godot, and (possibly?) The Great Divorce (the bus did it for me) was brilliant. I think you meant for the bus to be the bus to rehab, but isn’t that what the bus in The Great Divorce ultimately is, in the end? Although I wouldn’t consider Waiting For Godot to be in the same league as the other two. I always like my stories to have a story in them. But there’s never, ever been an absurdist who has ever told a good story (or who has ever even told a story, when I think on it).

    Reply

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