I’ve not been blogging as much, due to the business of spring, and the fact I am off debating Christians elsewhere.
Why do I insist on dogmatically debating Christianity in particular and theism as a whole? As with much in life, there is no one easy answer.
Sometimes I do it to just to inform others. I know, as a Christian, how uninformed I was as to various aspects of theism, and I attended Church all my life. How betrayed I felt, when I realized what had been kept from me. What is wrong with sharing all sides of the story? Yes, I know that many Christians do not like that type of confrontation, and would prefer to be fed only one side, and assured that the other person has done all the research and come up with the right conclusion.
I am not that person. I like to see both sides and decide for myself. I wonder if there are others, like me, that would also like to be given alternative views and reflect on them.
Sometimes I do it to debate. I love to argue. It is the reason I enjoy my job. Not meaningless argument just to argue, but true interaction, with points being made by both sides, and a commitment to the endeavor to extract the best points possible for oneself, and critique the best points possible for one’s opponent.
I enjoy framing an argument. Can I persuade a neutral party? Can I actually persuade someone that is opposed to me—very tough to do. I do not shrink from this, but rather revel in it. Can the other person teach me something, that I can take to the next debate? Or be better prepared next time? I enjoy that too.
But recently, I have been dumbfounded at how brutal Christianity is. Many times I debate it because, despite the good theism provides, its determent far outweighs any benefit it has. Do I fear an outright theocracy in America? No, people enjoy their freedoms too much. Forcing abortion or homosexuals, or strip clubs underground would only introduce a criminal element the government is unprepared to handle.
The detriment I see is in the prejudice and fear instilled in proponents of these religions, to the degradation of others. Think about how harmful the concept of Hell is for a child. Talking to children about those who died, there are two groups:
1) They are in Heaven; and
2) Only God knows their heart.
We knew at a very young age, the No. 2’s were in hell. We weren’t stupid. We knew Uncle Bob and Aunt Susie did not live a “Christian” lifestyle and were destined to fry. We liked Uncle Bob, it was just one of those things.
And this constant idea of Hell, hanging over our heads. If somehow we picked the wrong Christianity (like Mormonism) or didn’t do Christianity correctly, we, too, could some day be tortured forever. We all knew the “backsliders.” We knew where they were sliding to.
Even those that were in had a pecking order. We knew who was more saintly, and who was not. And we certainly knew we were free to call sinners whatever name suited them, and those too legalistic, whatever name suited THEM. “Pigs” or “White-washed tombs” whatever fit the occasion. We weren’t any of those things, only those too far to the left or right of us.
And how Christians can decry and call out those that believe differently. If Christianity said, “Meh. Some believe this some don’t. Respect a person for who they are, not what creed they claim” I would probably cease debating it tomorrow. If Christianity, in another bizarre extreme, actually started to practice what it claims, actually loving people, giving to the poor, and helping widows, I would heartily encourage Christianity!
I see it now more clearly. I have joined the pariah. Friends of long acquaintance no longer trust me with their children. Shoot, my own wife doesn’t trust me with my children! They fear I will blurt out the wrong thing—not support Christianity. Mention that “a” word and these children will be doomed to hell. That associating with one of the “them” (and for theists, “them” can mean a lot of people) would somehow taint them with their God.
If theism was the difference of picking out colors of cars, I would leave it alone. As it is dividing families, nations, people and individuals, I think I will keep the debate going a little longer.