It was something my friend Dan, aka RelUnrelated tweeted that made me want to tweet a response that rapidly got too long for a tweet, so I thought I’d try composing it in here. Here’s what he tweeted.
These “Christianity ISN’T a religion!! It’s a RELATIONSHIP with JESUS!!” people are really special.
My knee jerk reaction was to go so far as to call them “blessed” but i meant blessed in a more archaic way that’s not used so much anymore.. or maybe it is being used now but in a more politically correct way. Long ago sometimes people would refer to slow minds or crazy people as “touched by god.” Nowadays we have a long list of more scientific explanations and descriptors for these individuals but long ago nobody had the resources or the patience to try to understand them, so they just said god has a mysterious plan – a reason – for these people’s brains to be acting wonky. We’ll just say God’s using them for some special purpose. They ARE special. They are a gift from our god, and we should love them and care for them but we shouldn’t try to understand them.
What does science do? It tries to understand them. And maybe we don’t have all the answers yet but science is making more progress in neurological disease and mental trauma and brain surgical techniques and the like. We’ve come a long way from “barber surgeons” and bloodletting with leeches. We still have a long way to go, but this is progress.
Whereas religion has faith healing and the laying of hands and prayer groups and parents who let their children die of diseases we can cure today because they believe their god is the only miracle worker and actual science and medicine if of The Devil. Now, I don’t go see doctors cuz I can’t afford to go see doctors. These people can see a doctor. They can afford it. They choose not to, because they believe their god will provide them a miracle. These are “special” people. Their minds are “blessed” by faith in something they cannot believe in.
However, most people aren’t really like this. Most Believers actually do go see doctors and they do carry cellphones and they’re not Amish. They don’t believe they have to disregard every scientific advancement and achievement of the past 500 years or so just cuz science makes progress and religion hasn’t.
Christianity isn’t a religion, they claim. It is, but that’s now how they choose to perceive it in this instant. In their subjective perception of reality, it’s not like THOSE other religions over THERE. “Those CULTS that are all WRONG! I’m DIFFERENT, they insist. I’m SPECIAL! I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ!”
The argument is essentially a dodge. Of course Christianity is a religion, but when they’re trying to sell their beliefs to other people who are tired of religion, they want to wipe off the sawdust and cobwebs and slap a new layer of paint on THEIR beliefs. Cuz MINE is DIFFERENT! Mine is special! It’s NEW and IMPROVED! You can’t possibly have a problem with MY belief system cuz you haven’t tried it yet. And how is it different? Well it’s MINE. It’s not someone else’s. Someone who is probably wrong about something.
It’s a similar problem I notice when dealing with people who insist I have to disprove their god. First off, I don’t have to disprove their god. It’s not my god. The burden is on the Believer; the one making the claim that their IS a god. I’m not required to prove a god does not exist when I make no claim that it does. Further, I’m not claiming a god doesn’t exist. If you claim a god exists, I’m doubting your claim. I’m not making a counter-claim. I await your evidence. If I had to believe everything that came out of everyone’s mouth on spec I’d be rather gullible indeed.
Second, if you actually solidify your description of a god, I can eventually prove it doesn’t exist, even though I shouldn’t have to prove it. If you claim your god is outside known reality, I don’t even have to doubt it’s real. You just admitted it. So now you conjure up some other reality outside of this one: an afterlife or supernatural realm that is layered over this one but living people can’t perceive it. It’s there, but only if you believe in it. At this point I literally have nothing to disprove. You have invented an alternate reality that has no basis on this reality or any other. That’s called a fantasy.
If you claim your god is Abrahamic for example, you believe the fact you have a cold hard book to pound your fist on makes your god tangible. That is incorrect. I have ample evidence that the god as described in ancient Abrahamic texts like the Torah, Quran, or Christian Bible, is fiction. I’ve detailed that in previous blog posts.
However, this is a trap, because what most people who claim to believe in the Abrahamic god actually believe is a god that’s kinda like the Abrahamic god but not really. They agree with other Believers that the Abrahamic texts are the infallible word of their god, until you pin them down on the details, and their devil is always in the details. Because if you use their own Abrahamic texts (the alleged “inerrant” or “infallible” word of God) as descriptors for their god, and you cite them chapter and verse proof that said descriptions are contradictory to itself or actual reality, they will hem and haw and use apologetics and they have prepared songs and dances to avoid admitting the truth.
Their faith is their truth. The fact this is a lie to actual reality is not relevant to them, because they’re not using reality to substantiate their faith. They are using the feelings inside themselves that make them feel good and right in an often unpleasant and unjust world. This is very seductive and very difficult to divorce oneself from; I know cuz I had to do it.
Believers do not use reality to substantiate their claims because reality has failed them. It has shown them evil. However, the god inside their minds will never fail them. He will never falter. He will always show them the light.
Addiction to prayer is like an addiction to gambling. We ignore all the times when the process got it wrong. We celebrate the times when we prayed for something and it did happen, and we ignore the times when it didn’t work. This is about as unscientific as you can get, but in the eyes of someone with an addiction, the fact this behavior is wrong in the eyes of others only reinforces how they must be on the right track.
In this way, every Believer is “touched by God.” A Believer’s brain is touched by faith and twisted into a very complicated knot which is difficult to untangle, and most Believers find comfort in the tangling. They feel safe. They do not want you to untangle it, because from their subjective perception of reality, everything is supposed to work, and the areas where it doesn’t, well it’s supposed to be like that too. They don’t understand it but they’ve promised themselves they don’t have to understand it, because they put their god in the pilot seat. He knows where they are going. All they want to do is sit back and enjoy the ride. And they want others to fly along with them. They want others who share with them this tangled web of self-deception, because misery loves company, especially misery that’s been drowned in anything from alcohol to zeitgeists.
However, no two Believers really believe in the same thing. This is the real reason why you can’t talk either politics or religion in mixed company, and really even among closest friends these two areas of discussion often lead to misunderstandings and feelings of betrayal.
Cuz if I believe in a verse in the bible that told me dancing is evil, and you don’t, which one of us is right? If you believe the bible says it’s okay to throw stones at sinful people because you read it in the bible, and your friend tells you that’s a bad idea cuz it will lead you to being thrown in the slammer for attempted homicide, which one of you is right.
It IS in the bible. Oh but that’s the old testament. We believe in the new testament now. They were still stoning people in Jesus’ time. There are parts of the world today where people still stone others for transgressions. If the bible is the inerrant word of god, it can’t change just because you grow a conscience and realize that there’s a human being on the other end of that stone throw and nobody deserves to be treated like that, now or ever before or ever again.
Well but it says in the bible…? Oh what a tangled web we weave for ourselves, huh? The bible says no to tattoos but there are countless tattoos of crosses on people. The bible says no to homosexuality, but there are many gay believers. Shall we stone them? The bible says no to pork. For that alone I really don’t understand why anyone is still a Believer in the Abrahamic god. Bacon is awesome!
But these people are blessed by their god. Their one true god. A one true god that is somehow different for each individual that believes in it. Billions of one true gods. The one that tells you it’s okay to smoke pot is the same god that told that other guy to rape and murder people before shooting himself in the face. Same god. Oh but that guy must not have been believing in a god, even tho he said he did. Even tho he went to church every Sunday and many people say he was a quiet humble compassionate man and they were surprised he went crazy and hurt all those people. Well, YOUR god wouldn’t have let THAT happen. He must have been led astray. YOUR god must have LET him be led astray. And it’s all part of his plan. None of this makes any sense but it doesn’t have to for Believers, because they are blessed. They are special. They are touched by god.
They’re crazy. And we are trapped on a spinning mud ball in space with these crazy people. I feel stuck in the first reel of a zombie movie, and it’s only a matter of time before these touched people are gonna realize my brains aren’t special like theirs. My mind hasn’t been touched by their god. They are going to want to rectify that one way or the other. They are going to come for my brains, and yours too if you’re not careful. And everybody knows what happens in the second reel of a zombie film.
You run or you die.