Friday, April 14, 2006

Keep on rolling

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.


  1. Something in your blog post made me think of my favourite passage from Jeanette Winterson's book 'Oranges are not the Only Fruit': "I miss God. I miss the company of someone utterly loyal. I still don't think of God as my betrayer. The servants of God, yes, but servants by their very nature betray. I miss God who was my friend. I don't know if God exists, but I do know that if God is your emotional role model, very few human relationships will match up to it ... If the servants hadn't rushed in and parted us...(165).

  2. Thank you for the quote, cori. I liked your blog on “categories.” Very well said, and recommend to any who linger here.

  3. Well, since I'm a lingerer here...:)...I don't think of categorizing as a negative when it comes to blogs or websites. I kind of look at the headings & categories as I do chapters in a book.

    When it comes to scanning websites, blogs, forums, I like to look for headings so I can go to the areas I want to go to & not use time searching through each & every link.

    I separate my links for my ease & hopefully for the ease of those who are looking for specific information. It's the researcher in me.

  4. Dagood, I've really been enjoying reading your blog (got the link from God is for Suckers!). Since you wrote that you "enjoy framing an argument," perhaps you could help me with one?

    I was having a discussion with a woman I know, who considers herself Catholic. I say "considers" because she follows only those parts that don't inconvenience her.

    Anyway, the subject of there being lots of gods came up, and I said that I don't believe in any of them, hers included.

    Her response was that they're all actually the same god (hers, of course), but different people in different cultures just see "him" differently. Kind of like the blind men and the elephant, although she said it was like people looking at different sides of a boulder.

    Anyway, it seemed to me that such an argument was created simply to end debate. Maybe I felt that way because it seemed to me that, if one can truly believe such a thing, one can convince oneself of anything.

    So, here's where you come in. Can you frame a good argument against her position?

    Thanks for the great blog.