Childlike Grace

Bible

When I was a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Blogger Barry, in a recent post, said that he’d halted on his path to becoming an Atheist. He does not say that it was because he was taught that Atheists are evil, nasty or sinful, but that is the reason that many ex-Christians won’t admit that they have become Atheists.

Tired of the judgemental, accusatory, denominational bureaucracy and hypocrisy, he still wished to identify as ‘spiritual.’ It is quite possible to be spiritual, without being a member of any Christian sect.  His last stop before getting off the Christian bus, was at Mormon.

He still visited Atheist websites, and admitted that he had remained a Christian. He was amazed at the vehemence of some militant Atheists, who insisted that any and all religions were harmful.  He admitted that, being ‘inside the box,’ perhaps he did not understand the claim.  He asked, if he was not harming himself, or anyone else, how could his being a Christian be harmful?

When we tell small children that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy exist, are we harming them, or society in general? Probably not, or only a minuscule amount.  However, when children get to be 7, 8, 9 years old, we tell them the truth, and show them reality.  To allow them to grow into adults who still believe in things like the Tooth Fairy, can cause harm in a variety of ways.

If an individual or sect is allowed to treat their particular and peculiar superstition as reality, then both the believers and society are harmed. It also inserts the thin edge of a wedge.  If one is, then all religious opinions must be accepted, no matter how strange or unreal.  The more people there are, who treat fantasy as fact when dealing with life and the general public – the fewer people who cannot and/or do not, deal with secular reality – the more harm is caused, both to the believers and to society.

Critical thinking is incredibly hard, but also incredibly important. We can’t learn and grow without it.  We have to question our own ideas and motivations, so that we don’t get stuck on there being only one correct, acceptable idea.

Next comes the slippery slope. Once strange unprovable beliefs are allowed, the holders quickly try to turn acceptance into licence.  If politically powerful enough, they try to pass laws enforcing membership in their sect, and making disagreement with their views into heresy and apostasy.  Kindly old George H. W. Thousand Points Of Light Bush once said that Atheists should not be allowed to be American citizens, or patriots.

My opinion of Blogger Barry’s intelligence and mental strength, based only on reading a few of his posts, is that he is not, and probably won’t ever be, directly harmful to society. Sadly, he’s one in 10,000 – or maybe a million.  There are countless hordes, who are only too willing to use their religion as a justification to inflict physical, mental, emotional, social, or financial pain and damage to countless other victims.

God is for the wise. Religions are for fools.  If only more people would grow out of the childish need for an imaginary friend to protect and guide them, and become adult enough to face the universe and life as it really is, and not just how they wish it were.   😦  😯

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10 thoughts on “Childlike Grace

  1. Barry says:

    I think you are somewhat confused.

    The post is hardly recent – it’s a year old.

    Where’s this “halt”? Life is a journey. I haven’t stopped and have no intention of doing so.

    Why should I (or anyone) think atheists are evil? Was my father or are my two brothers evil? How about the slightly more than half the population of Aotearoa New Zealand who are also not Christian? Are they sinful? Of course not. Your implication is that although I haven’t said so, I probably do think ill of atheists. Let’s put it this way: If at election time, one candidate claimed he was Christian, while another other never mentioned religion, I’d most likely vote for the latter.

    I have stated on numerous occasions that atheism is where my head is, but it’s not where my heart is. In other words, as far as deities or other supernatural forces are concerned I don’t believe there are any. I consider myself a non-theist rather than an atheist.

    Tired of the judgemental, accusatory, denominational bureaucracy and hypocrisy“. Huh? I have never belonged to any church, nor attended any church service since I was around 7 or 8 years old. I never found one that I would be comfortable in because my beliefs were not compatible with the those held within the faith tradition. The factors you mention are irrelevant because I never became sufficiently involved in any church to experience it. Those are human traits and are found just as often outside religion as in it. As someone on the autism spectrum, I have had more than enough experience to know the reality of that statement.

    I have never wished to be identified as “spiritual”. One’s religion or spirituality or whatever else one might call their ‘spiritual home’ or ‘spiritual journey’ is a personal affair. It’s not something that anyone else needs to know about.

    Mormon? Where did that spring from?

    As for being Christian, it depends what one means by “Christian”. If you mean as the term is commonly understood in America or Africa, then I am most certainly NOT Christian, and never have been. On the other hand, I have no objection being identified as a “non-theist Christian”, “post-modern Christian”, “liberal Christian”, or any other term that does not imply belief in the supernatural. And precisely what is this “Christian bus” that I apparently got off? What I believed as a teenager is not inconsistent with what I believe now.

    Yes, I am somewhat surprised at the vehemence some atheists display towards all religion. But perhaps that’s because religion here is viewed rather differently than in many other places. I had one rather long online discussion with an anti-religionist who had never heard of the concept of “God” being a symbol/personification/metaphor for all that one values most in life. In fact he/she insisted I made it up. And yet here, the highest award the nation can bestow upon a citizen was given to the principal of a theological college who makes the same claim. The award was for his services to religion and theology. Here, it’s a widely held belief, and even those who believe there is some kind of supernatural force/being, mostly accept it’s a valid alternative to their own belief.

    one in 10,000 – or maybe a million“. Where did you draw these figures from? Let’s assume there’s about 2 million Christians in Aotearoa New Zealand. On the basis of your second figure there’s only one other person that who is not”directly harmful to society” (although the inference is “possibly indirectly harmful”). If you take your first figure, then there’s still only 200 similar people. Seriously? There’s possibly up to 50 thousand who may believe that I need “saving” from the “sin” of heretical beliefs, but the rest don’t believe such nonsense, even those who believe my beliefs are “mistaken”. Look, for every religious leader who claims that our recent earthquakes were caused by such “sins” as decriminalised homosexuality, same sex marriages and decriminalised prostitution (and I’m familiar with only one such leader), there’s more than a hundred that will counter that with the argument that such events are acts of nature, not of God. Further more, they’ll affirm that all one needs to do to see what God is, is to look at the actions of those who have worked tirelessly to assist those in need in the days, months and years after the disasters.

    religion is for fools,. Perhaps I am a fool, but if so, would somebody please point out what it is that I believe that makes me so. Likewise, I read so often that all religion is harmful. Such a statement must also apply to the faith tradition I belong to. I have asked, on my own blog and on others, what is harmful about that tradition but to date any response has been rather vague such as treating superstitions as reality. Such as?

    I’m not claiming that religion does not cause harm. One would indeed be foolish to make such a claim. I question the accuracy of all religion causes harm. To accept that statement, I need proof. So what better to illustrate some glaring examples from my faith tradition.

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    • Archon's Den says:

      I am sorry if my post disturbed you in any way. It was intended to be a cautionary tale about the secular inroads and restrictions that politically powerful Christians like George H. W. Bush in the American Bible Belt are making to the country’s entire, religiously diverse population. This is the kind of harm that believing superstition to be reality can cause.

      As such, I took some literary licence to tell a story, rather than present a diamond-hard investigative report. Therefore, some of your concerns do have some basis. Others seem to be as much a matter of you misunderstanding or misconstruing my post, as you feel I did yours.

      I did provide a link back to your original article, something that I did not need to do, so that my readers could access your exact words and thoughts, if they wished.

      My one-in-ten thousand, or million, figures were not based merely on your city – or country – but the entire world and all religions, and included Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, ISIS, and al Qaeda, as well as the Westboro Baptist Church. If there are 20,000 ISIS warriors, I have one for every thousand of your peaceful, acceptant fellow Kiwis, who is willing – anxious – to rape, torture, kill and destroy to enforce his beliefs.

      Blind faith in unprovable religious dogma may make many, like you, and them, feel good, but it is not a good basis for making important life decisions. As I said in my article, you seem to have sufficient intelligence and control to make good decisions affecting you and others, but millions – billions – around the world don’t, can’t and won’t. 😦

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  2. Barry says:

    Literary licence does not give you the right to claim untruths as facts. How many of your readers will simply accept all you say about me as factual and not check for themselves? If WP statistics are to be believed, only one has followed the link you provided (and that may well have been me).

    Blind faith. I think that is the crux of the matter. This doesn’t just apply to religion. It applies to economic theories, political systems, cultures, and much more besides. You seem to be convinced that the world would be a better place without religion. I’m not convinced. Prejudice and bigotry exist in all walks of life, and if religion was to disappear, other forms of “blind faith”, prejudices and bigotry would rise to fill the vacuum. I only need to look at my own country to see that. For example there’s a large minority of the population who strongly believe the remedying of grievances of the indigenous population is pandering to the greedy and harmful to the harmony of the nation. A somewhat smaller minority look at the disproportionate number of the same minority populating the prison system as “proof” of the superiority of their own culture.

    Blind faith in unprovable religious dogma may make many, like you, and them, feel good, but it is not a good basis for making important life decisions.“. You’ve identified me as someone having blind faith in unprovable religious dogma on which I make important life decisions. Blind faith in what?

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  3. stuartaken says:

    Reblogged this on Stuart Aken and commented:
    Wise words, well expressed here. I felt I must reblog this post.

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  4. stuartaken says:

    I’ve reblogged this post, as it says a lot of those things in which I believe. Raised as a Christian, in the Church of England, I suffered a trauma in my teens and quickly learned that most ‘religious’ people are not the generous, caring souls they pretend, but often selfish individuals intent on making sure they ‘get to heaven’, and that this is the driving force behind their faith. In other words, they’re driven by fear rather than true altruism.
    That realisation sent me on a journey to discover other religions beyond Christianity. And I discovered that almost all religion is, in reality, a control mechanism that has little to do with spirituality and much to do with encouraging others to join that particular club.
    By its very nature, religion is divisive and tribal. That is bad for society. The other thing that ‘faith’ does that is essentially harmful, is encourage a belief in ideas and things that lack any evidence to support them. A reading of history quickly places most religious texts into the realm of myth and legend, but these dangerous dogmas are treated as ‘truth’ by those who espouse them.
    I rejected God as an idea and an entity in my late teens. Later, I realised that this is as extreme as adhering to any given religion. If we examine what is known about the universe we inhabit, we come to understand that we know much less than we remain ignorant of.
    As a consequence, I’ve become agnostic in my view. My simple way of expressing this is: ‘If there is a god, that entity must be so far beyond our understanding as to be incomprehensible and probably unrecognisable.’ Certainly the idea of a god interested in any individual is clearly nonsense. As is the idea of a god of mercy or kindness.
    So, I prefer to live my life in that state of uncertainty that governs most good science; i.e. awaiting the next discovery that will either prove or disprove our current knowledge of our universe.

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    • Archon's Den says:

      I would wish that Blogger Barry (above), and others like him, would read this comment. Sadly, it would do no good, as they just don’t get it – or would refuse to. 😯

      Liked by 1 person

      • stuartaken says:

        Sadly, an open mind is the very opposite of what attracts people to religious organisations. Like right wing political thinkers, the closed mind, the support of dogma, is what provides them with their unfounded faith, which they fear to question in case they discover they’ve been wrong all the time.

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      • Barry says:

        In what way would it do no good? Stuartaken’s comment was about his experience and how he reacted to it. Now, while I might not necessarily agree completely with his interpretation of his experience, there’s little I feel that requires refuting. To quote: “And I discovered that almost all religion is…“(emphasis mine). Stuartaken is acknowledging that not everything that follows applies to every religion, which is reasonable, as it’s unlikely that he is familiar with every religion. Now, while he and I might disagree on what constitutes “almost all”, his conclusions have been drawn from his experience, and there’s an element of truth in all that he has written in the comment. The fact that he reblogged your post is another matter.

        Your comment immediately above still implies that I wilfully, or through blind faith believe something that has been proved to be not true. That I dispute. If on the other hand, you mean that I believe in some things that haven’t yet been proven to be true, then yes I am guilty of that crime.

        Consider this: stuartaken says he’s an agnostic because “If there is a god, that entity must be so far beyond our understanding as to be incomprehensible and probably unrecognisable“. Further, he states “I prefer to live my life in that state of uncertainty that governs most good science; i.e. awaiting the next discovery that will either prove or disprove our current knowledge of our universe“. You seem to accept his agnosticism as being a rational stance.

        However my stance as a non-theist is not quite so rational. Why? Most atheists make a distinction between the absence of belief in the existence of deities and the position that there are no deities. Most will claim an absence of belief, but are reluctant to claim there are no deities. Even Dawkins puts his certainty that there is no deity at 6 on a scale of 1 to 7. On the other hand, I rate my certainty that there is no deity at 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. God, or gods, are purely a creation of human though processes. I’ll agree that from a purely scientific viewpoint, I might be on shaky ground, but I believe my stance is rational, or at least not irrational.

        I asked you to provide evidence that I have blind faith in unprovable religious dogma on which I make important life decisions. If my non-theistic stance is all you have to go on, then I’ll plead guilty. Otherwise, I really would like a really would appreciate an example.

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  5. […] changing definitions….  I got some ironic laughs from Blogger Barry, in his replies on my Childlike Grace post.  If you don’t believe in a supernatural God the Father then, by definition, you are an […]

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