Magi Mike's Blog

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Christian Belief is Just Talk

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Jamie Whyte, author of Bad Thoughts: A Guide to Clear Thinking and a former philosophy academic, wrote in The Times of 16 September 2008 that atheists are amazed at the persistence of religion in a country as sophisticated as the USA. How can clever, mature adults believe Christianity in the absence of any secure evidence of its central tenets, and a vast amount of contrary evidence?

That the world was created by an invisible deity, that He later impregnated a virgin who then bore a son who was His own father, that we have immortal souls and will live for ever in Heaven if we are good and love Jesus—how can anyone who has even attended high school believe such things? And how can agreement with this nonsense be a prerequisite for winning the support of the American electorate? It defies belief.

“If something defies belief”, Whyte says, “a good starting position is not to believe it”, and that is the very position that science takes as a prerequisite. It is called skepticism, and has led us from the darkness of a Christian dominated west a thousand years ago to the present period of knowledge, gadgets, easy living, and long life as long as you make sure you do not serve in the military.

Whyte has a theory about it. He does not believe that Christians really believe in their “gobbledegook”, as he calls it. What American Christians are doing is expressing hopes not beliefs. They are not saying “I believe” but “I wish”, hoping to convince themselves. Whyte correctly points out that people who really believe in eternal damnation, and that God has commanded human beings not to kill, and, in fact, to turn the other cheek, could hardly be voting Christian gun crazed madmen—or women—into the White House to unleash “shock and awe” on to innocent Arab families.

Christianity means doing something, God’s will, not whatever suits you, as US Christians think. The Christian God, they all like to claim to be best friends of, Jesus, told them they have to love other human beings, not just their relatives and best friends, but even their enemies! What US Christian does that? They fail the tests that Christ set for them, and they fail them without a flinch because they just do not believe the bible at all.

What is more, the Christians who are most fanatical are the least concerned about their post mortem situation. They have convinced themselves that they are all saved anyway, so what they do does not matter. It shows that they do not read their bibles in the round, but only the bits they like, the bits that support their wishful thinking.

The bible belt of America is all together less moral on a range of measures than less fanatically Christian districts. Pre-marital sex and abortions are higher than more secular parts of the USA considered by believers to be immoral zones, like New York and California. Sarah Palin is the darling of the Christian Right Wing, but her daughter was not convinced of the danger of an eternal roasting enough not to put her off a bit of illicit nooky, and so she got pregnant.

What do the Christians care about that? Suddenly, it is only human to do such things. The truth is they don’t really believe what Christianity has to say about eternal life or eternal torture. Or rather, they like the idea of eternal life, and conclude that, whatever they do, they are good enough to be saved, and the eternal torture does not apply to them, so need not be considered.

As Whyte says, if these Christians believed what the bible says, then they could not fail to act on it. In other words, their belief must be evident through their behaviour, yet mostly it is not. God’s commandments ought to dominate the lives of believers utterly, yet you cannot distinguish a Christian from any one else:

People who believed in Heaven would surely act quite unlike those who do not… Put simply, they fail the behavioural test for belief.

The heavenly reward does not come into it because all US Christians are deluded enough to think they are different from the rest, yet when they are shown not to be, it is because we are all human. It is a double standard, that can be expected from people who lack the analytical skills, and particularly the self-analytical skills, to realize what they are doing.

US politicians are no different, except perhaps that they realize what they are doing, and cynically stick to what suits the empty headedness of the typical Christian voter. Otherwise their basic policies are completely free of any inferences from the possibility of facing God’s wrath.

When they are occasionally asked to justify some awful atrocity—like the war in Iraq, a punishment on the Arab families for the crimes of a few Moslem extremists as fanatically religious in their own way as the US Christian caucus—they claim they are happy to meet their maker, proving their faith in nothing other than wishful thinking. Did they not read that Christ came to bring peace not a sword, and Christ is God, Christians tell us? They already know their God’s will, and they have been found wanting. They did not bring merely a sword but 15,000 pound bombs, and the support of 60 million Christian believers eager to bring Christian love to their enemies.

By the light of their avowed Christianity, this is perverse.

Any politician who talked in truly Christian terms would be “an unelectable lunatic”. Despite that, they have to run it close for the sake of the pretence of Christianity that the 60 million profess.

All of it shows that American Christians are Christians only in name. They do not read their bibles but think they are saved because they are Americans, and Americans are the new Israel. Their authority is Paul the apostle, a mere man, while God incarnate just talked a load of bull to be ignored by true believers! The central message of Christ is commendable, to love one another. It is a shame that Christians almost universally ignore it. They think Christ said, love yourselves. In reality, US Christian belief is just talk.

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Written by mikemagee

21 September, 2008 at 10:57 pm

One Response

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  1. Why do we do it mike? It is of some advantage to us that is why. The elaborate cultural and social myths we construct will be looked at in a thousand years time with perhaps some documented evidence of the utilitarianism of them. With myths we can do magic. Scientific myths like electrons and atoms are used to underpin what is still technological magic electronic machines. Biological counterparts exist but the iterative complexity of the structures make them less accessible to direct manipulation so we say nature did it, another myth that is useful until we have no use for it .

    Sam

    4 November, 2008 at 5:06 am


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