Yup, I had me one . . . an epiphany.
No, not the manifestation of a divine being. Rather, an experience of sudden and striking realization. It came as a shock, it did.
You see, after literally stumbling on a number of stories, comments, posts dealing with religion, religion moved to my storefront, so to speak. And there, in the front window, spotlights on it, a small motor waved a plastic hand signaling for me to ‘jump in’.
You might say I cannonballed it . . . my Religion At Its Worst post was purposefully written while I was angry (and I’m still angry when I think about it).
My radar active, I took note of other religious stuff that crossed my path. Some on Twitter, some on Facebook, and some on blogs. Politicians, celebrities, and regular people all added to the din.
One of my many problems is that I can’t ‘just ignore’ certain things. I dropped the occasional comment here and there, started discussions, participated in existing discussions.
I am 61 as I write this. Serious discussions about religion came into my life when I was 19. By serious discussions I mean people sitting around with bibles in hand, logic and reason at our sides, and the patience of Job (not Steve; the biblical Job). Interesting phrase that . . .
. . . it refers to Job’s refusal to condemn God when Satan, doing god’s bidding, destroyed Job’s family and his livestock, essentially turning Job from a rich family man into a childless and widowed pauper overnight. But, that’s another story.
The point is that I entered into discussions with honest believers, and, verily I tell you, I myself was not many years into having accepted my lack of belief in god . . . the discussions we had were seldom conclusive, but they did serve to reinforce the soundness of my arguments.
You see, time after time the end result was the believer ending with the equivalent of “because” as an answer. They believed “because”.
Sometimes they added the “I want to”, as in “I believe because I want to”, but there was never even a shred of justification for that belief that came from the Bible. I can respect that somewhat; I don’t understand it, but can marginally respect it.
What I can’t buy are people wanting to validate their belief by logic, by argument, by evidence, and then making up shit, evading, and denying all the arguments refuting their statements.
Side note: I often have been tempted to join a Bible study group. I’m curious about what they are actually doing as they sit there, Bibles in hand.
Move forward twenty years, countless discussions, canned answers, flawed logic, unsubstantiated assertions, personal anecdotes (one person told me she had prayed for some money, and the next day there was an envelope with said money at the foot of her bed – she was overjoyed; I would have been creeped out that someone had been in my bedroom while I was sleeping, then I would have been ashamed for having prayed for money instead of praying to cure a kid or feed starving people, and then I would have wondered if the money was counterfeit – I mean, either god stole money from somewhere, or he manufactured it), and just plain nonsense, and I started to see a shift.
You see, believers shifted proof from the Bible (where it can’t be found) to nature . . . using ‘science’.
Ah, science . . . I love science; I even understand most of it (unlike, you know, most religious folks).
Another twenty years followed; more discussions about the Bible, and many discussions about nature, our origin, science of belief, the increased understanding of our brains, and all sorts of fascinating topics of discussion that usually still resolved into what is the only honest answer I ever got . . . “I believe because I want to”.
Fine. I really don’t care what anyone wants to believe. I do think that if they are not constantly questioning what they believe, then they are seldom deserving of respect or consideration, but that’s another story; at least most of them are not jerks.
. . . unless they take their belief and use it to tell others how to live their lives.
Toward the end of those twenty years we come to the glorious years of discovering people who thought like me, and not only they did not stutter, but wrote and spoke my thoughts much better than I ever had, or could. Hitchens, Harris, a few others.
You see, many, many atheists I had known walked on eggshells, dodging the serious questions, veiling their answers in what I call accommodationism . . . something like “yes, they are wrong in their beliefs, but we don’t want to piss them off by pointing out their fails in reason, logic, history, science, and basic humanity”.
Damn, but I miss Hitchens.
“Where is this going,” you ask? “Where’s this epiphany?”
Whoa! . . . there’s someone still reading this? OK, OK . . . I’ll wind it up.
Remember I mentioned discussions with honest believers? Them now be rare . . . I also mentioned I dipped back into discussions, and what I find is that the narrative has changed, the tactics have changed.
They make a statement; you counter it; they ignore most of what you say, ignore links, ignore data; they make another statement; you correct them, provide the reason, show where they went wrong; they make a different statement, but really just a rehash of the previous one.
They do not address the tough questions, they do not acknowledge responses, they shift, shift, shift.
Forty years; I am tired.
On three discussion over the past week I reached a point where I just have to leave. It had been a waste of time, effort, and the exposure to faulty thinking damaged my calm.
Also, even though I try to answer in kind to the tone of the other comments, I’m sometimes accused of being mean, rude, or just plain not nice.
Perhaps I am, I don’t know . . . I don’t try to be any of those things unless really provoked, but I know I can unleash; perhaps I now do it without realizing it. I mean, I usually go back and reread what I said, and I don’t see it, but maybe I have a higher threshold than others.
Or, perhaps, I’m arguing with the equivalent of emotionally and intellectually stunted individuals, incapable of holding a frank discussion.
Or . . . we’ve entered The Age of Entitlement. Unlike The Age of Enlightenment, it’s not characterized by reason, but by superficial feelings and toddler brains.
From Psychology Today:
“In the Adult brain, which reaches full maturity around age 28, we have the mental capacity to construct a solid sense of self. Living in it, we’re able to improve situations, connect to others, protect all that we value, and appreciate people, ideas, nature, and creative beauty. We can stand for something, learn from our mistakes, make the world a better place, and forge a legacy.”
“. . . the Toddler brain . . . Instead of regulating alarms with reality-testing, then, our thought processes amplify and magnify them. Intelligence and creativity go to justifying the alarm. Commandeered by Toddler brain habits, the prefrontal cortex can reduce the alarm only temporarily by blaming it on someone, denying responsibility for it, or avoiding it through distractions. That’s right: It employs the familiar toddler coping mechanisms of blame, denial, and avoidance.”
Read it again . . . “learn from our mistakes, make the world a better place” versus “blame denial, and avoidance.”
Please, convince me. Give me a cogent argument. Show me the logic, show me the data, show me the proof. That’s what I’m about in all my arguments . . . convince me, and I will change my mind.
The problem is that people debating me don’t appear to actually listen to what I say . . . while I spend an inordinate amount of time responding to each of their point, all they do is move on to something else, not acknowledging the argument, not answering questions, not responding to challenges.
My epiphany? . . . we never had children; I’m not equipped to deal with toddlers.
I’ve stopped the subscription to a number of blogs, cancelled subscriptions to many, many comments, and removed the religion, atheism, skeptic, and tags for similar topics from my readers (even though I seldom visit it, I do occasionally look at it, and I don’t want to accidentally see some blog post and be dragged in).
Mind you, I will still write about those things, but only in reaction to the news and current events.
As of right now, believers will have to earn a measure of my respect before I consider another discussion about religion with any of them, and even then, it better be a new argument; if it’s a rehash of stuff from the past forty years, sorry . . . go get your education elsewhere.
I don’t want to diminish the few good discussions I’ve had, but even those take time, effort, and invariably still end up with “I believe because I want to”. I can respect that, but then why start a discussion? If that is the starting point and ending point, we are both wasting our time.
Just once I would like to hear . . . “Uh; interesting points. I have no answer to that, but it has instilled doubt in my mind, and an awareness that perhaps I’ve not thought this through well enough,” but I’m done hoping for it.
Listening to a few atheism and atheist podcasts, I know it happens; I know some people do apply reason, logic, and some have even found it liberating to do so . . . but not anyone I ever spoke to. Not a one.
Perhaps I am just a jerk, and I’m hurting the cause (if there were a cause), and actually driving more people toward religion; as good a reason as any to extricate myself from the fray.
That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.
Something I’ll be adding to my opinion pieces. It comes from a discussion I had (unrelated to religion) regarding the difficulty of writing to an 8th to 10th grade level. I did not tweak the writing after checking readability.
Reading Ease for this post
A higher score indicates easier readability; scores usually range between 0 and 100.
|Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease||66.3|
Readability Grade Levels for this post
A grade level (based on the USA education system) is equivalent to the number of years of education a person has had. Scores over 22 should generally be taken to mean graduate level text.
|Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level||7.9|
|Automated Readability Index||7.1|
|Average Grade Level||8.7|
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. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.