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10.24.2005    |    Faith for those without religion: yet another update
A self-proclaimed atheist, UnApologetic Atheist, who wanted to know why I wrote
Atheists can be fun. They can be geniuses, morons, but are, just like believers, mostly in-between those two extremes. One species of atheist appears to be those who so firmly believe that God can't possibly exist that they become, how do we say this gently, hysterical about it. Screeming meemies about it.
Sigh. Where to begin? Perhaps it was that Newdow fellah who wants to eliminate "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance. Perhaps it is all those lawsuits to prohibit the showing of Christian symbols. Perhaps it is all those lawsuits to prohibit the posting of the Ten Commandments.

The biggest problem is that atheists don't like Christians who actually believe in what they claim to believe in. They'd much rather have watered-down, vaguely Christian members of the Church of the Fluffy Bunny™. In fairness, they also jump, sometimes gleefully (hey! caught ya!) on unchristian "Christians" like Pat Robertson and a whole bunch of other wingnuts who seem to want to establish a theocracy. Well, neither do I, but that does not make us all Nazis just waiting for our chance.

As many thoughtful atheists know and freely admit, Christians come in all flavors, some tasty, some like Bertie Bott's vomit flavored beans (ooh -- devil worship reference to Harry Potter). Here's the bottom line for me: our nation was founded by Christians, who also were strongly against any one sect being the established church. Who therefore, especially thanks to James Madison, ensured that we would never force anyone to become a Christian.

There's no irony in my saying, Thank God for that. Thank God, also, that America has matured, and, in one sense, come around to the Baptist way of thinking (hey, got to get a plug in...): freedom of conscience (This is not an apology for Baptist sins, which have been mighty. We all sin; it is in our nature). It is merely a statement that Baptists have, by being the victim of real persecution in early America, come to value freedom of conscience in matters of faith.

Which is kind of what America, the idea, is all about -- freedom of conscience, to believe, or not believe. Many atheists seem discontented with this state of affairs, and would have us be loosed from the Judeo-Christian moorings of the American Founders.

That's my principal beef with atheists.

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7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog entry leaves out one very significant point. How exactly do you feel that atheists are acting out in their discontent "with this state of affairs".

How exactly are atheists working to loose us "from the Judeo-Christian moorings of the American Founders"?

And really, what does the religious affiliation of the Founding Fathers have to do with anything? The Founding Father's Western philosophy could trace its roots back to Pagan Greek philosophy. Does that mean we should hold fast to our Pagan Greek founding?

9:15 PM, October 24, 2005  
Blogger breakerslion said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:38 PM, October 24, 2005  
Blogger breakerslion said...

Beaten to the punch! I'll have a glass anyway.

Your plaint about Atheists attempting to loose us (?) from the Judeo-Christian moorings of the American Founders stirred a memory. Here it is.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll be brief. The issue here is not whether we broke a few rules or took a few liberties with our female guests. We did. [Winks at Dean Wormer]. But you can’t hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few sick, perverted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn’t we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn’t this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg, isn’t this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do what you want to us, but we’re not going to sit here and listen to you bad-mouth the United States of America!"

If you don't see the similarity in the two arguments, I can wait.

Might I also add that progress was never made by a ship (of state or otherwise)left tied to its moorings?

PS: I retract my original assessment. You are a thinking individual. There's hope for you.

9:38 PM, October 24, 2005  
Blogger The Un-Apologetic Atheist said...

Thanks for the shout-out. I do have two questions though.

One, why do YOU favor keeping the modified McCarthy-era version of the Pledge, rather than restoring it to its original, pre-1954 form? (or, phrased another way-- why do you accuse us of wanting to change the pledge, when it was Christians who changed it?)

Two, why do you say that the Founders were "Christian?"

Like modern America, the Founders were a broad spectrum of beliefs, even though, like America, most of them were Christian. But there were a hugely-represented group of Unitarians and Deists in there as well-- certainly not people we would consider "Christian" in any modern sense. The principle author of most of the documents to which you refer was also the author of an edited version of the gospels which took most of the supernatural elements away from Jesus.

I find it somewhat disingenuous the way you present the history and culture of America as so monolithic (not to mention mono-theistic, pun intended). You could accuse many Progressives of doing the same with today's Republican party, when they say that Republican = Evangelical, as you point out when you say in a previous post that men like Wolfowitz are not evangelical Christians.

So with that skew pointed out to you-- perhaps you might reconsider your position on why it's okay for Christians to try to change my Pledge to reflect their values and not mine? Or to post their religious commandments in my public courtroom? I ask not to antagonize, but to beg you to see the world through my eyes for just a moment. Thanks for that consideration, and thanks again for the linking.

11:36 PM, October 24, 2005  
Blogger Aaron Kinney said...

Perhaps it was that Newdow fellah who wants to eliminate "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance.

Ironic comment since the pledge was originally written by a bishop without "under God" in it.

Perhaps it is all those lawsuits to prohibit the showing of Christian symbols. Perhaps it is all those lawsuits to prohibit the posting of the Ten Commandments.

Postin the Ten Commandments in Federal buildings that are not supposed to endorse one religion over another. For some reason, I suspect that you would very unpatriotically favor the Christian Ten Commandments being posted exclusively in a courthouse, rather than alongside the Nine Satanic Statements.

The biggest problem is that atheists don't like Christians who actually believe in what they claim to believe in. They'd much rather have watered-down, vaguely Christian members of the Church of the Fluffy Bunny™. In fairness, they also jump, sometimes gleefully (hey! caught ya!) on unchristian "Christians" like Pat Robertson and a whole bunch of other wingnuts who seem to want to establish a theocracy. Well, neither do I, but that does not make us all Nazis just waiting for our chance.

You obviously dont know anything about atheists. Typically, atheists prefer the Biblical inerrantists and fundamentalists, because they are easier targets to attack and are easier to see as mentally deranged. The liberal Xtians never let you identify what they do and dont believe definitively, and it makes it harder to criticize their position. And regarding Pat robertson, he IS a "true" Christian just like you are. Have you ever heard of the "No True Scotsman" fallacy? If not, look it up so you can stop embarrasing yourself.

As many thoughtful atheists know and freely admit, Christians come in all flavors, some tasty, some like Bertie Bott's vomit flavored beans (ooh -- devil worship reference to Harry Potter).

Atheists come in all flavors too.

Here's the bottom line for me: our nation was founded by Christians, who also were strongly against any one sect being the established church. Who therefore, especially thanks to James Madison, ensured that we would never force anyone to become a Christian.

You are totally wrong. America was founded by deists. And besides, who it was founded by is irrelevant. What is what founded to BE is what matters. And it was founded to be a nation that doesnt endorse any religion at all, including Christianity. The problem with you is that you got your "who founded America" info from your preacher or from Fox News rather than from an actual history book or biographies on some of the founding fathers.

Ben Franklin, Thomas Jeffeson, John Adams, and Thomas Paine wrote some of the NASTIEST things about religion in general, and they saved their most damaging volleys for Christianity in particular. You spend too much time reading the Bible and not enough time reading about the history of this nation.

There's no irony in my saying, Thank God for that. Thank God, also, that America has matured, and, in one sense, come around to the Baptist way of thinking...

Actually, America is just now startin to mature in the past ten years; the "nonreligious" percentage of the American population has doubled in that time. Christians (of all flavors) are beginning to dissapear from the homeland.

Which is kind of what America, the idea, is all about -- freedom of conscience, to believe, or not believe. Many atheists seem discontented with this state of affairs, and would have us be loosed from the Judeo-Christian moorings of the American Founders.

Care to be more specific? Can you describe what those alleged jew-xtian moorings are? Can you point them out please? You throw around unsupported assertions way too much.

Ie read alot of Christian blogs, and Im rather unimpressed with this one. You spout out the tired old crap that I usually expect from 8th grade Church Youth Group students.

1:01 PM, October 25, 2005  
Blogger Hallq said...

I don't know of any atheists discontented with freedom of conscience. Asking the government to be completely neutral with regards to religion is perfectly consistent with such an ideal of America (though I, for one, am more anxious to see a completely balanced budget)...

In youru last post you declared your belief in the inerrancy of the Bible. I'll give you the benifit of the doubt here and guess you aren't familiar with passages such as I Sam 15:2-3 or Num 31:17-18. If not, read them. Once you've done so, or if you're already familiar with them, ask yourself: "what would I think of this if it were in the Koran?" I realize you'd like to rationalize, forget, and go back to the passages on God's love for the world, but try a few repetitions of that question aboutu the Koran. Maybe, then, you'll start to see why some people get frantic at the realization that others think this book is infallible, and want it to influence everything from marriage laws to high school biology classes. If understanding that is too much, at least understand why people want to hear more justifaction for your beliefs than "I just know it."

2:04 PM, October 25, 2005  
Blogger Jesse Hattabaugh said...

As one of those "Screaming meemies" you were talking about, let me shed some light on my irritation.

Imagine that you moved to another country, and in this country it was widely accepted as fact that a flying spaghetti monster controlled everything. Not all people were fundamentalist pastafarians, many didn't even wear the pirate regalia sanctioned by their de-facto spirit. However it was still common for the al-dente (the term for true pastafarians) to openly pity and look down their noses at you saying "I'll pray for your ever-boiling soul" and whispering behind your back "he's not al-dente". They likely wouldn't cause you any physical harm or even discriminate against you (that much) as pastafarians are a peaceful people, but you would feel excluded and alienated each time the FSM was mentioned. Almost every day, on the radio, in television, and with people you talked to you would hear his name, It wouldn't stop at mere mentions, people around you would debate about the feelings and intentions of the FSM. They would ponder why he had made the midget, and they would talk admiringly about his kindness, and their servitude to him. Often they would talk about how pitiful people who didn't have a relationship with the FSM were, and how much they wished that the FSM would touch them with his noodly appendage so that they might know the glory of his presence in their lives.

At first you'd quizzically nod your head as if you were being spoken to by a crazy person. You might even laugh to yourself about the ridiculousness of the concept of an invisible flying spaghetti monster. Eventually though you'd gain the courage to question the faithful about their beliefs. To this you would be met first by a recoiling as it's revealed to the people around you, some of whom you'd consider friends in this strange world, as they realize that you are not in-fact al-dente. They would then remember their purpose--to enlighten you about the wonders of pastafarianism. The first few times you would probably smile politely and nod your head. You might even utter some "I see"s to satisfy them into stopping as no matter how many times they say it "Invisible Flying Spaghetti Monster" ain't sounding any better.

At this point you have options. The first being to convert to pastafarianism, either in truth, or as an act to ensure that people accept you. If you are strong in your convictions or you simply can't maintain a straight face when waxing poetically about his "noodly appendage", then you would likely continue to debate the topic with those around you. You would eventually become even more versed in pastafarian scriptures then many of the believers you encountered on a day-to-day basis. Little by little you will come up against every proof of the existence of the FSM, you would hear every argument, and you would cast them all aside with valid reasoning.

By now you will have become a little tired, and a little jaded, both from the constant embattlement with your friends and colleagues, and with refuting the same statements over and over again. You will begin to wonder why on earth you can't get through to these people. You will wonder why they are so oblivious to the absurdity of their beliefs. As well, you will live non-stop with the knowledge that those you try so hard to reason with do little but pity you and treat you with distrust for your efforts. Your social life will hit many walls. You'll lose friends you have and could have had. Even if it's only psychological, you will feel like an outcast. All of this--of course--makes you angry, spiteful, and sad.

Notice that none of that had anything to do with the morals of the pastafarians. As I said they are good peaceful people, and the way they act (aside from their ostracism of non-al-dentes) is perfectly acceptable. I also didn't say that you would even have all of them refute their beliefs. I didn't even mention how pastafarian interest groups push pastafarian legislation through the government to force school teachers to dress in pirate regalia. The driving force behind your progression into intolerance is the social out-casting. The feeling of being a square peg in a round hole. We all want to feel a sense of belonging, and being a minority often causes us to lash out against the majority that will not accept us.

This is only my experience hailing from the bible-belt (Arkansas), being raised a christian and therefore being well aware of the pity and pressures leveled at non-believers, and growing out of my superstitions to form a more realistic world-view and subsequently alienating myself from my family, and most everyone else around me. I can't speak for those who grew up in atheist households or live in blue-states however. I'd imagine they would have to feel a lot less cornered than I do.

So let me close with my now standard, overlyharsh, and uncalled-for treatment of supernaturalism so that it's out of the way and you will know where I stand and we can get on to being friends;

There is no God, no reincarnation, no soul, no Santa, no pink unicorns or what-have-you. Every bit that you look down on me for having no prescribed moral code, I look down on you for not being able to think for yourself and act morally without a giant father figure watching you. If life is too complex to have been made without a designer, then who made the designer?

Whew! That always makes me feel better.

10:23 PM, October 26, 2005  

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About this site and the author

Welcome. My name is John Luke Rich, (very) struggling Christian. The focus here is Christianity in its many varieties, its fussing and feuding, how it impacts our lives and our society, with detours to consider it with other faiths (or lack thereof).

Call this blog my way of evangelizing on the internet.

Putting it differently, we're only here on this earth a short time. It's the rest of eternity that we should be most concerned about. Call it the care and feeding of our souls.

I was born Jewish, and born again in Christ Jesus over thirty years ago. First as a Roman Catholic; now a Calvinist by persuasion and a Baptist by denomination. But I'm hardly a poster boy for doctrinal rigidity.

I believe that Scripture is the rock on which all Christian churches must stand -- or sink if they are not so grounded. I believe that we are saved by faith, but hardly in a vacuum. That faith is a gift from God, through no agency on our part -- although we sometimes turn a deaf ear and choose to ignore God's knocking on the door.

To be Christian is to evangelize. Those who think it not their part to evangelize perhaps haven't truly understood what our Lord told us in Matthew 28. We must preach the Gospel as best we are able. Using words if necessary.

Though my faith waxes and wanes, it never seems to go away. Sometimes I wish it would, to give me some peace of mind. But then, Jesus never said that walking with Him was going to be easy...

Final note: I also blog as Jack Rich on cultural, political and other things over at Wrong Side of the Tracks

Thanks for stopping by.