You’re all a bunch of Atheists!!!
Ok well…in this case…you ARE probably all a bunch of atheists but that’s not what this blog about so instead let me start with what I know is a strong claim.
I have never met a religious person who believes the tenants of their religion under the slightest bit of intense scrutiny…you’re all a bunch of atheists.
Now I want to introduce an exception and that is the professional. Ray Comfort, Joel Osteen, and your local pastor will look you in the eye and tell you the bible is real (whether they believe it or not is a different story) but they will SAY, God is a guy, and they believe it. Hell is real, salvation exists, and the bible is the word of God. They have to. It’s their job. Hell, it’s their job requirement.
But my bold claim is that pretty much anybody else, the moment you start talking about what words actually mean…is gonna start lying.
If I said tomorrow “Astrologers believe that the stars influence the personalities and fates of human beings and anyone who doesn’t believe that is NOT an astrologer. Is there any doubt that NOBODY, astrologer or no, would let me know how closed minded I was being.
Imagine how absurd it would be if not just astrologers themselves but critics of astrology responded by telling me that, in fact, Astrology has nothing to do with the stars, and if you’re going to define an astrologer as someone who cares about stars you’re no better than them there Christians who say that atheists are just mad at God –but mention that salvation and the bible are necessary to be a Christian and well…it’s a different story
Despite the fact that no honest person would accept the homeopath disinterested in tinctures or the bacon eating vegetarian, dozens of smart thoughtful atheists will tell you a sentient God, the bible, and resurrection don’t have any effect on being a “believing Christian” and I…have no idea WHAT they’re talking about.
So the first question I have for these people is….well then what the fuck DO christians believe?
Well if you ask them, the first answer they give is that you…are a poopy pants and don’t get to decide. I don’t know why this is always the case but that is always the first answer. But the second answer seems to be a character assessment of jesus based on the three nicest quotes from the sermon on the mount (and, you know, nothing else) from the bible they haven’t read
And if that’s the case then I’M A CHRISTIAN. I’m a Buddhist and a sikh too. Hell I’m a goddamn scientologists if the foundational principles and ideas have absolutely NOTHING to do with what it means to be a religion. We HAVE a word for liking good ideas but not believing in their divine or ontological nature. It’s called atheism. We have t shirts now and everything. Don’t we?
And look, I get it. I do. I’m not going to be obtuse and pretend that cognitive dissonance doesn’t exist. Of COURSE many self identifying Christians don’t believe in the bible in any way that you could put those words together that would make sense; of course most Christians don’t actually believe in salvation or damnation in the way those words are actually used but THAT’S not the counter argument…that’s the point. If tomorrow vegetarian came to mean people who go easy on the bacon but still have it occasionally I would not suddenly have the meaning of the word wrong. Especially if politics was filled with extreme vegetarians trying to ban chicken nuggets. More on that in a moment.
Further by these non-standards of language, how would anybody ever criticize a set of ideas? Seriously? I know not all Republicans are against gay marriage but that doesn’t except the republican party from responsibility. Can you imagine the verbal gymnastics involved in condemning the foreign policy-supporting, party line-following, religious (in the literal sense) Republicans and the agenda points that they are while Jeff Sessions files an Amicus brief against title VII? It’s absurd we don’t do it under any other pretense.
Because that’s the problem. It’s not just about pedantry. If It was, I gotta be honest, I really wouldn’t care but the evil being proposed and executed by extremists uses this dishonesty of so called religious moderates to forward their agenda.
When the catholic church says we’ve got a billion members they say it from the position of an institution that has a billion followers who literally believe that a cracker turns into the flesh of Jesus christ and they set policy accordingly. The set policy like an organization that’s above the laws of man, and above the laws of science and reason. No wonder they still oppose homosexuality, contraception and abortion over a billion people think their employees have literal magic powers. Don’t they?
You know what you called a christian who didn’t believe the bible was the word of god a hundred years ago? An atheist. Or a heathen. (Same thing.) A couple hundred years before that and the word was heretic and might easily result is death, exile or worse, so imagine my surprise when two old ladies later I’m told that insisting on the meaning of words makes ME closed minded.
And all of this linguistic flexibility ignores the fact that the questions of religion matter a hell of a lot more than the question of the non stargazing astrologer The bacon eating vegetarian is wrong but he’s not going to burn in hell forever, and lest I remind you that is, until pretty recently, what’s at stake behind the word Christian.
YES, it makes a big difference whether 83% of the country believes that God wrote a book that an incorrect reading of will lead to eternal hellfire, or if they’re just fans of the words of a bronze age doomsday preacher to which they attribute enlightenment. These are ideas that thousands and thousands of people have DIED over. Specificity matters.
But I want to talk about one last atheist. After the linguists cry-bully their way out of the conversation (as they always do) with cries of “wow great straw man” and “nice to see atheists can be as closed minded as the Westboro Baptist Church” I myself alone with the last remaining atheist. The Atheist believer. And when you ask the atheist believer if there is a hell and if I’m was going there he’ll say yes. He’ll cover it in some flowery language. He’ll hit you with some deathbed conversion apologetics and some subversion of god’s law chicanery but push comes to shove he’ll have the decency to say yes.
And I want you to know. That parson..is lying too. Because they…are a dentist or an electrician. If they actually thought I was going to hell you know what he’d be? A preacher. And easy as it is to make fun of the screaming street preacher they’re doing the moral thing.
I mean, imagine for a second, you’re walking down the street and a marathon is headed your way, and you and only you notice a giant hole open in the ground. Don’t you step in front, wave your arms around and start screaming? Now let’s say the hole was full of fire. And the people who fell inside would burn in that fire forever. What kind of monster wouldnt? What kind of sadist wouldn’t dedicate their every moment and penny to preventing eternal torment of just one more soul? Unless…you didn’t actually believe it.
So what’s the solution? What am I proposing? Well the firstly I’m proposing some hard uncomfortable conversations. There’s an impulse especially in humanism right now to be forgiving of bad or dishonest ideas as long as they lead good places and I’m just as guilty of it as you are. We have to start challenging the good guys, our loved ones, and the public ones to stop lending their name to something that’s got nothing to do with them
And the rest…well David Silverman wrote a better book than I will a conclusion. Go read “Fighting God” Good book. But in the meantime remember. You’re all a bunch of atheists.
Hey guys thanks so much for listening. Feels good to put back on my religious shoes again for the first time in a while. If you haven’t supported on patreon yet. Please do so. Got a really cool higher level patron bonus thing coming up next month and we’re FINALLY going to do a hangout. Got invited to the livestream beta oooh aaah. And that’s going to be with my lovely wife Anna so if you’re a higher level patron keep your eye out for that. And if you’re already pledging stay tuned after the music for a patron only afterthoughts: Feed You
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