Friday, February 10, 2017

Why There Is No Hope For Your "Christian" Friends

One of the most constant and consistent frustrations of those opposing Trump is with his supporters, especially with -- and this is most of them -- "Christians." The disbelief that non-Christians have with "Christians" who support Trump is completely justified, but discussions about the lack of compassion from "Christians" is for some other time. This time let's deal with the dismissal of facts and reality by "Christians" in their rabid defense of Trump and the things he's doing.

So let's deal with a hard truth:
There is no hope for your "Christian" friends, and it is a waste of your time trying to talk to them or convince them of anything fact-based or anything having to do with actual reality, even when it comes to things that might be directly affecting them (like the ACA) in the very near future.

Well, that's kind of doom and gloom, isn't it?

Maybe, but it's the truth, and here's why:

From childhood, "Christians" grow up being taught to ignore science, history, and archaeology for the greater truth that the Bible contains. See, sometimes what's in the Bible comes into direct conflict with the reality of the world. In those situations, "Christians" are taught that the Bible is always right and science is always wrong. Always. The Bible is infallible after all, so any fact that goes against something in the Bible is always suspect. It is only a "fact," meaning it is some piece of some liberal conspiracy to undermine the Church.

Let me give you a couple of real world examples that I dealt with over and over again as I was growing up.

See, dinosaurs were my first love. I spent a good 10 years of my life planning to be a paleontologist when I grew up (which is a story for another time). By the time I was four (yes, I said four), I was already neck deep in textbooks about dinosaurs (not little kid books but actual science books about dinosaurs and paleontology). To put it another way: Science was my thing. However, dinosaurs don't fit well within the "Christian" mythos. I mean, where are they even mentioned in the Bible? And how do they fit into that whole seven-day creation myth? "Christians" will go through all sorts of mental contortions to explain all of those very real bones sitting in museums.

Explanation one:
When God created the Earth, he created it with the fossils already in the ground. There were no actual dinosaurs, God just made giant bones and stuck them in the ground.

What the fuck?

Yeah, even as a kid, that was kind of my mental response even though I had no clue about the word "fuck."

I mean, why? Why would God, any god, do something like that? Just to fuck with us? I actually had to have a discussion with my mom about this when I was... oh, I don't know, maybe 12 or 14. Her question to me was, Is it possible? Is it possible that God could have just put the bones in the ground?

How do you answer something like that? Of course, it's possible. But why? I told her it didn't make any sense logically that God would do something like that.

And she said something like, Maybe God did it as a puzzle for us to figure out.

What the fuck?

Look, this wasn't my mom talking. She didn't come up with these ideas on her own. It was some unit or something they were doing in Sunday school and, since it was about dinosaurs, she wanted to talk to me about it. And it wasn't just from my mom I head this theory. But, you know, when it came from the Church, she wasn't ever much for questioning it. This was about as close as she ever got to doing that.

So, yeah, if it was a puzzle, how do you even figure that out? What, then, is the puzzle? If you come up with answers that the "puzzle" would lead you to -- that dinosaurs ruled the world for millions of years then died suddenly -- you are completely wrong. That doesn't make any sense, that God would deliberately mislead us like that, not to mention that there are no clues at all that God had just stuck bones in the ground, so you could never come to that knowledge from the "puzzle."

So she said, "It could be a test?" Like a test of our faith. To see if we would believe that they had been real when what we should be doing was immediately grasping that God had stuck bones in the ground even more proving that He is God.

A trick, then, I said. You're saying that God is trying to trick us. That's mean.

The conversation ended when I said I didn't believe in a God who would make bones and stick them in the ground for no logical reason. It was either stupid or mean. Then I walked away.

We never talked about it again, but that was how I dealt with that particular scenario any other time I heard it mentioned.

Explanation two:
Man and the dinosaurs lived simultaneously upon the Earth. Yes, despite any archaeological evidence, man and dinosaurs coexisted. Some people even believe that Noah had dinosaurs on the ark and that he saved them from the flood... just so that they could all go extinct some time just after that.

One of my youth pastors when I was in high school believed this, that Noah loaded the ark with dinosaurs. Baby dinosaurs where the really big ones were involved. We had... disagreements... about this frequently. So much so, in fact, that he did two separate units about Creationism (in the same year!) with the whole dinosaur/human coexistence as the central point. For one of them, he brought in some outside "expert" on the issue who had a film and various "proofs" that dinosaurs lived with men. The most famous of these being this fossil of a dinosaur footprint with a man's footprint within it. That was the proof.
[If you're interested, this is known as the Paluxy dinosaur/man track controversy and has been debunked by science, though there are still plenty of young-Earth Creationists who believe in the coexistence of man and dinosaur.]

Mostly, "Christians" tend to ignore the dinosaur question or take up the more liberal view that maybe the word "day" where it's used in the creation myth didn't mean a literal 24-hour day.

The point, though, is that "Christians" are taught from a young age to ignore empirical evidence when it contradicts the Bible and that they will fabricate all sorts of stories to get around conflicts.

AND they think they are smarter than you while doing it, because, in the end, they believe that their "foolishness" is greater than your "wisdom":

I Corinthians 1:27 -- But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise...

I Corinthians 1:19-20 -- For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

I Corinthians 3:18-20 -- If any of you thinks he is wise in this age, he should become a fool, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written, "He catches the wise in their craftiness." And again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile."

These are not the only examples of this kind of philosophy from the Bible, so you might be able to understand why some of these people espouse the view that you don't need to have "any learning but what's in the Bible," something I've been told numerous times by numerous people all the way into my 20s when I was going to college. There's a reason why they pride themselves on their ignorance; it's because they've been raised to believe it's a virtue.

Their ignorance makes them "smarter" than you, and you're just not going to talk those people out of that. You can't argue with stupid, especially when it believes it's pulling the wool over your eyes.

18 comments:

  1. There's no way to win an argument with people who don't accept facts and science and rely on unproven faith to form opinions. But most of my Christian friends aren't rabid about religion. The thing that ticks me off the most is that the GOP consider themselves morally righteous vs the liberals, but have come to act against the spirit of Jesus's teachings. Zero empathy and sympathy for others, and only selfishness, greed, and intolerance.

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    1. Lexa: Here's an interesting thing about empathy:
      Empathy is a sign of intelligence, in that less intelligent people have a very difficult time with the thought processes (imagination, really) involved in being empathetic.

      Coincidentally (not), Conservatives tend to be less intelligent than liberals. They have very rigid thought processes and lack (guess what!) imagination.

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  2. I've often wondered about the kind of God I believe in. Or was raised to believe in, as my beliefs shift and over the past few years, especially, I've questioned a lot of things I once took on faith, literally.

    People see God as a sort of genie: tricking us, demanding blind obeisance, demanding perfect moral rectitude. They they come up with human-invented solutions to get around these rules. One of the more ridiculous, not to mention awful, ones I heard was a craze (an actual craze) in which people who wanted to commit suicide would kill a CHILD, and then before they were executed for the crime, would confess and be forgiven. They would then get into Heaven, whereas suicides wouldn't because you couldn't be forgiven the mortal sin of suicide before you died. They'd kill KIDS because that way the kid, still innocent and young, would go to Heaven, too. PERFECT SYSTEM.

    If that truly WAS God, then I'd just as soon not believe in him. Any god that would allow such a system to work is not a god I want to follow.

    I often say that if your god wants you to treat people cruelly, if your god is okay with torturing a gay person to death or kicking your teenage daughter out of the house for getting pregnant, that's not the kind of god I want to follow. If that god IS in charge, I'm screwed either way. So why bother following those rules?

    In reality it seems like people use the rules of religion to justify their own beliefs, rather than to inform their beliefs. If you want to disbelieve science, then treating the bible literally is the way to go. Then you have to come up with a reason for the things science says are real, so you say God is testing you. That's my favorite one: God is testing you.

    So I agree: you can't argue with them. Not because they're Christian, per se, but because they won't let anything shake their beliefs, and will simply think around your comments or arguments.

    It's sad. But, then, there are a lot of people who aren't Christian that do the same thing.

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    1. Briane: Dogma is the hallmark of conservative thinkers. You can't argue people out of that no matter what kind of facts you have.

      What I believe about God is that He is beyond comprehension, so, whenever anyone starts talking about understanding God or knowing what God meant by something or saying they have it all figured out, I know that person is full of shit. I'll use the pro-life people as an example, because that's an example of extrapolating the mind of God from something that's not in the Bible. A Bible that says that it's okay, even good, to take your kids out and stone them to DEATH if they are inordinately disobedient. If you try to talk to one of them about it, they will generally say one of two things:
      1. "But that's different..."
      2. "That's not what God really meant."
      So, see, they are claiming to have some inherent understanding of the intent of the will of God.
      Bullshit.

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  3. I really hate anything that requires belief in spite of evidence to the contrary. And the thing that gets me is that medieval biblical scholars like Thomas Aquinas thought that the history of the bible shouldn't be taken literally...but these days there are people who think it's stupid to believe the Earth is more than six thousand years old. Like it's so impossible to believe that god might be more complex than people can hope to fathom.

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    1. Jeanne: Yeah, there's a whole "museum" to it.

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  4. There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been.
    The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life,
    nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'
    ― Isaac Asimov

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    1. Symbology: I paraphrase that one a lot.

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  5. Thanks, Symbology, for that Asimov quote. How true. I believe in science, and Darwin's evolution theories. (Andrew, Have you read any of David Brin's posts on his blog Contrary Brin? He's a physicist, advises NASA and has written many scifi novels.)

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    1. D.G.: No, I don't follow Brin, but I do have a stack of his books in my closet that I haven't gotten to yet.

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    2. I've read some David Brin! Pretty good stuff.

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    3. Which is why I have a stack of them in the closet. :P

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  6. I'm a Christian. When other Christians tell me that scientific evidence can't be true, I remind them that we don't know how God defined a "day" when He created the Earth and we don't know everything that happened during a day. A day could have been a million years. Of course, they look at me as if I'm crazy.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Janie: The great thing about that is that the word there that we translate to mean "day" is more accurately translated to mean "the time it took to take a journey." It wasn't a set time at all. But culturally we're all still locked into the King James version of the Bible even though parts of that translation are incorrect.

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  7. I will continue to believe the election was a test. You were either on the side of humanity, decency, and compassion, or you weren't. No one can legitimately call themselves a Christian if they voted for Trump. (See the Beatitudes.) We all knew exactly who he was and what he'd do if he got into office. Now that he is, every life lost, every indignity, every crime his administration commits is on those who voted for him. Redemption isn't very likely.

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    1. Nancy: You could call it a test, but I don't think it's one sent from God. I don't think God needs to test us in that way. He doesn't need to bother.
      But, yeah, there is a burden of responsibility, and they are all going to try to get away from bearing it by saying they never liked Trump and felt forced into that decision.

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  8. Great post. I'm knee deep in a world where about 75% of the people I know think like the people you describe in your post. It can be... frustrating.

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    1. Rusty: Only 75%? That's not too bad, then.
      I don't think I would survive, right now, if I still lived in the South.

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