Overcoming the “Convert Everyone” Mentality

July 26, 2009 at 6:51 pm 43 comments

As I have left the faith this last year and half, I have watched old ideas shed themselves from my mind systematically. One of these ideas was the mentality that said I should always be paying attention to / worrying about what other people “think”.

The Protestant churches and schools I remember spent an inordinate amount of time with their finger to the wind of culture, constantly on high alert. Every slight change in culture or thinking outside the church should be brought to the attention of those in the church and critiqued for everyone’s “edification”. In particular, I remember spending a considerable amount of time discussing “post-modernism”, why it is bad, how it is bad, how we can counter it, and how we could witness to those confused post-modernists.

In many ways, I feel like some of the Christian commenters on this blog are doing this. They are here to “feel out” why people are leaving the faith, to get a sense of the changes in culture that are causing the church to lose members. I do not blame them for doing this. If one has the Absolute Truth of the Universe in their possession, it is only natural that they guard it – and themselves – from every “empty philosophy” the world offers.

But this post is not for them, it is for those who are leaving the faith and feel an overwhelming – and perhaps debilitating – responsibility to convert or immunize everyone around them from Christianity. In the time I have spent perusing blogs of ex-Christians, I have seen that there tends to be a period of militant anti-Christianity as people who are severely hurt by those beliefs try to protect everyone else from a similar fate. I went through this period myself.

But the other day it hit me that I no longer have the weight of the world’s ideas on my shoulder. It is no longer my responsibility to know what everyone else thinks, find the errors in their thoughts and beliefs, immunize myself from them, and “gently” and with “respect” correct them for being in opposition to the “Truth”. I feel a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

I do not have to believe everything just right anymore. I do not have to walk around like an idea cop making sure everyone else believes everything just right anymore.

Recently I have had numerous opportunities to hang out with friends who were never involved in church. The peace in their eyes is so apparent. They are not weighed down with anxieties associated with beliefs and the associated tertiary existential dilemmas. They do not look at everyone around them and secretly think they are suffering from some deep void in their souls. They just don’t worry about it. What other people believe is other people’s business, not theirs.

What other people believe is their business, not mine.

As a Christian there was a consistent conscious push to turn every conversation into an “opportunity” into a way to “make the most of your time, because the days are evil”. This, for me at least, had produced a “convert everyone” mentality that still existed for quite some time even after I had left the faith.

But this attitude is something that Christianity taught and if I truly desire to enjoy my life and shed the old skin of Christianity, this is an attitude I do not want. If I want to convert other people, that is fine. But the burden that comes from the feeling that I must convert others can go.

And it has brought an even deeper sense of freedom. Christianity is slavery to slavery: slavery to sin to slavery to Christ. The freedom that comes from being a slave to neither is incredible. [And to those Christians who will say that I am a slave to sin now - and do not know it - my response is simple: if slavery to sin is so impotent that I cannot even notice it, I do not care that I am a slave to sin.]

Anyway, other people will believe what they want, and those who are gullible enough to fall for Christianity are not my divinely given responsibility. At least they will not end up in hell for believing something wrong.

- Josh

Entry filed under: Josh. Tags: , , .

Jesus loves you. But… Do YOU believe the Bible is true?

43 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Richard  |  July 26, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Great post! I have been in conversations with believers in which they actually refused to agree to disagree. This puzzled me at first. What does it mean, exactly, to not agree to disagree? Disagree to disagree? Disagree to agree?

    Then I realized: it means pragmatism regarding belief is an alien concept to them. They genuinely cannot imagine a mindset that says, if you’re happy with what you think is true, what reason do I have to protest? Its that anti-post-modernism thing. They think “if it works for you” means relativism. In actuality, it just means a pragmatic agnosticism: neither of us know for sure, we cannot reach agreement, your beliefs seem to give your life meaning, so why argue forever?

    I wholly agree. Wishing each other well on the journey is indescribably liberating.

  • 2. Richard  |  July 26, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    I would also add as a postscript that I think theres a larger philosophical issue here. I.e., that truth may not always be the highest value. Shouldnt human well being be at least as important as abstract notions of “truth”? Beliefs held because they are comforting may not always , in all cases, be such a bad thing.

  • 3. Blue  |  July 26, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    Excellent post Josh, thanks for writing it. It really resonates with some thinking I’ve been doing lately. I’m coming up on my 1 year of finally shedding any type of theism (and this site helped immensely, let me tell you) and I’ve come to the point where I’m really not interested anymore with proving to others that I’m right or that they’re wrong about there being a god. I’ve come to peace with leaving Christianity behind and in this year I’ve learned a lot of the why I was taught to believe the way I was. Fundamentalist Charismatics and Calvinism aren’t things I can even understand why I believed them anymore.

    I don’t want to deconvert anyone. I enjoy discussing religion with anyone, but now I’m free to not have to convert someone.

  • 4. Sabio Lantz  |  July 26, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    Everyone is going to feel different roles in dispelling poor ideas, be they about politics, religion, sex or blogging. I am happy for the variety of folks out there. But Josh’s point of not being a slave to the same habits you had as a religious person is ironically excellent.

  • 5. Quester  |  July 27, 2009 at 1:14 am

    Good for you, Josh! As my doubts grew when I was a Christian, my discomfort with evangelism grew as well. One of the first things I lost when I realized I no longer believed in a god, was any fear or responsibility I felt for others’ eternity. With that weight off of me, I feel no need to convince or deconvert anyone. Certainly, there are still things I value and like to share with others, if those others are likely to be interested, but now this can result in a mutual sharing, and not just me giving that which is true and right to those who lack it. And if others disagree with me, if it hurts no one, there is no eternal consequence. I can argue if I wish, or just get up and leave, ask them to leave, ignore them, or find some other way to coexist. It’s so wonderfully freeing!

  • 6. The Jesting Fool  |  July 27, 2009 at 4:49 am

    Excellent!

    No more worrying about eternity. No more inclinations to shove doctrines and ideas down everyone else’s throats. No more intellectual slavery.

    Freedom. The ability to enjoy life without the anxiety caused by the belief that millions of souls around you are destined for hell. Peace at last, but only after rejecting a religion that preaches peace.

    Pretty sweet, eh Josh?

  • 7. Brian  |  July 27, 2009 at 9:28 am

    My problem has always been that I simply cannot leave well enough alone when I think somebody has missed the intellectual boat completely. And that goes double for new and exciting ideas that come into my life. The only difference is that people tend not to base their lives on, say, whether socialism is a good idea or not. (well at least not before the last 18 months or so). So arguing merits can remain a purely academic excercise. But once you start dealing with matters of faith, it’s hard not to quickly alienate people because the lines quickly dissolve from, “here’s some interesting ideas” to “one of us has to be wrong and the implications are going to be a lot bigger.” Because ultimately a theological debate is going to come down to does god exist or doesn’t he. And by the time you get to that point, you’re into Matrix territory where you’re messing with beliefs that people are not ready to give up yet.

  • 8. LeoPardus  |  July 27, 2009 at 10:11 am

    Good post Josh. And good thinking.

    I have to give the EOC some real credit on this same point. They have their focus on personal change, behavior, and the like. It’s not that they lack any evangelical outlook, but they prioritize getting yourself straight first and foremost. Evangelism shouldn’t have to be made to happen then; it should just flow from the process of personal development.

    It’s one thing I carried from the faith into my de-conversion. And I can frankly be grateful to the EOC for it.

    OK. OK. Enough plugging for the EOC.

  • 9. DSimon  |  July 27, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    I respectfully disagree with some of what you seem to imply.

    Not turning every conversation and relationship into a philosophical wrestling match, I can totally get behind that. However, I have to take exception with this:

    Recently I have had numerous opportunities to hang out with friends who were never involved in church. The peace in their eyes is so apparent. They are not weighed down with anxieties associated with beliefs and the associated tertiary existential dilemmas.

    I am one of these people you’re talking about: I’ve never been part of a church community, and do not have any religious beliefs. However, I’m certainly interested in finding out capital-T Truths, if they exist and can be found.

    Live-and-let-live is very important for everyday interactions with people of differing belief systems, but you seem to be suggesting that it’s unproductive to disagree with others at all, or even to critically examine one’s own beliefs and ideas:

    I do not have to believe everything just right anymore.

    Well, I don’t have to either, but I’m certainly very interested in finding out what is right! The tranquil detachment you attribute to your non-church-going friends is not a universal, nor should it be. Sometimes religious and philosophical discussions can be intellectually stimulating and fun. It’s the reason why I come to this site although I am not de-converting or a de-convert.

    There’s nothing wrong with thinking about and seeking grand truths, and talking about that search with others in non-disruptive, non-coercive ways.

  • 10. Joshua  |  July 27, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    “However, I’m certainly interested in finding out capital-T Truths, if they exist and can be found. ”

    Oh definitely, me too. I think I only meant that it is definitely not on the par of intensity that one can find among those in the church where an eternity in hell awaits if you – or your friends – get it wrong.

    “but you seem to be suggesting that it’s unproductive to disagree with others at all”

    It is only unproductive when talking with those who hold ideologies :) Like this:

    http://methodicalmusings.com/2009/07/07/leaving-faith-its-not-about-arguments/

    That discussion / debate in particular lead me to writing this post on de-conversion. 233 comments? And that is after a good 5-10 conversations that we have already had in the past. This was not my first interaction with this person!

    “The tranquil detachment you attribute to your non-church-going friends is not a universal, nor should it be.”

    This I never meant to imply as a universal. It applies to my friends, though. Sure, I knew people in the faith who acted the same way – tranquilly detached. I just feel that those who are inside the faith and *not* strung out all the time with the intense pressure and realization of the eternal consequences of their every word and thought are probably not taking certain claims of their faith very seriously.

    “There’s nothing wrong with thinking about and seeking grand truths, and talking about that search with others in non-disruptive, non-coercive ways.”

    Completely agreed. But I posit that Christianity is fundamentally coercive. What thought system with a hell for getting it wrong is not coercive? I don’t know how they could have non-disruptive, non-coercive conversations without undermining their own beliefs.

    It is becoming somewhat clear to me that there is a massive difference between Christians “discussing theology and philosophy” and those who are non-religious having the same discussions. Almost every Christian I know “discusses” theology and philosophy with the assumption that they have already figured out the conclusions. The underlying and unspoken goal of all discussion, then, is witnessing – to act as if one is open to alternatives but in reality to be “leading” the conversation toward what they believe.

    But, to each their own. I guess if someone believes they have found all Truth, they can believe it – it is not my business. I just don’t want them to make it my business. To paraphrase a famous quote: if God has a problem with me, let him tell me, not you.

    Thanks for your critique, it is appreciated :) I only want to add that the perspective internal to faith-based systems is usually not as open and pure in intentions as you appear to be!

  • 11. paleale  |  July 27, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    I know many people in the faith who seem to have peace and lead happy lives. They love to help people and see themselves as doing something good to direct needy people to their concept of Truth so that others can experience their feeling of contentment. But their knowledge of the religion they adhere to is extremely shallow. They believe Jesus loves them and God loves them so they feel significant. They go to church and sing happy songs and can obtain forgiveness every time they do something that they perceive as sinful. It’s not a bad system as long as you don’t dig around. It’s the ones who delve into theology who have to wrestle with the issues.

    I have also known many Christians who feel that pressure to save the world, however; and their lives are much more stressful as they are saddened by the idea of God’s broken heart for the the millions of lost people and the insurmountable task of reaching them. I’ve seen so many people weeping over maps of the world and praying such desperate prayers for the ‘lost’ people groups of the world.

    These people usually come to find a sort of balance sooner or later by selective ignorance of the command to evangelize and deciding to leave it all in God’s hands. Either that or they burn out or develop a quasi-psychosis about it. Sad and gross. But I guess anyone can develop neuroses about their passion, whatever it may be.

    I’m just glad I don’t have to follow a commandment to go around interrupting people’s lives anymore.

  • 12. J. Allen  |  July 27, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    I have nothing against what people think, but I do think we should be concerned with what they do.

    If someone wants to effect my life, and use religion as a reason, I will not feel bad telling them that they are deluded.

    Delusional thinking is thinking which denies certain aspects of reality. I think if you had a friend who refused to accept that his father had died, and that he will return one day…well you’d be worried about him and rightly so. We can debate whether or not we should interfere in other people’s delusions, and to what extent, but beliefs do inform actions, sooner or later.

    It can be unethical to turn a blind eye to destructive behavior, and behavior based on lies is more likely to crash against the walls of reality.

    Maybe we don’t want to try and shove knowledge down their throats, but it seems irresponsible to not try and guide people towards making reality based decisions.

    Of course life is easier when we don’t care about the world, but that says nothing about whether we should or shouldn’t.

  • 13. DSimon  |  July 27, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Thanks much for your response. I was worried after I posted my comment that I was coming across too harshly, but I see that my intended point got through. :-)

    You mention:

    It is becoming somewhat clear to me that there is a massive difference between Christians “discussing theology and philosophy” and those who are non-religious having the same discussions.

    I read through the discussion on the link you provided, and wow, that’s certainly true of that conversation at least. :-) It doesn’t always have to be so heated, though.

    I have had discussions on Christianity with Christian friends (and also discussions on various forms of woo with woo-believer friends) which were fun and interesting for both of us. We both wanted to convince the other of our viewpoints, but we kept the conversation civil. As a last resort, we would drop the subject for the day when it seemed to be getting too emotional.

    This doesn’t work for every person and every relationship, but it does happen sometimes that these discussions can be positive, even when they cut close to the core of the participants’ beliefs and ideas.

  • 14. Joshua  |  July 27, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    “It doesn’t always have to be so heated, though.”

    Completely agreed. The heat was mostly my issue – absolute frustration that no matter what I would say or how I would communicate it, he would always come back and chide me for “not understanding” what I was talking about and being “foolish”. When I ask for evidence, I was generally served a fresh plate of red herrings. I enjoy fish, but the same thing over and over got pretty old.

    On a side note… the reason I believe most believers can remain so calm is that they can defer “being right” to the afterlife. God will set things right in the end. For an atheist, like me, I have no divine “setter righter” who will eventually convince Christians they have been duped. This is, why I believe, many atheists get so frustrated in the face of the unfazed faithful. The Christian remains calm in his faith that all will be made right and the foolish atheists will get their just deserts. The atheist gets upset because they feel the Christian – in some way – is ruining the only life the atheist gets.

    “As a last resort, we would drop the subject for the day when it seemed to be getting too emotional.”

    Yeah, we had at least 5 other conversations similar to the one on my blog and I finally just gave up and decided not to talk to him anymore. He would not let up no matter what and always felt compelled to show me the “correct” Christian position – which generally involved a “I know you are wrong but I cannot guarantee the right answer”. After a couple months he suddenly showed up on my blog, so I decided to just talk to him until he left or provided what I considered satisfactory evidence of his position. He did the former. The frustration and overflow of that conversation helped inspire this post.

    Was my conversation immature on my part? Probably, but with all sincerity: when a genuine belief in hell is involved in the discussion, it is hard to avoid heat.

  • 15. Sabio  |  July 27, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    @ Josh & DSimon
    What is Truth with a capital “T”?
    How is it different from all the small truths?
    Why not settle for “truths”?
    The capital-letter things you look for may be illusive altogether.

    I was converted from my fanatic vegetarians and my fanatic Marxism slowly. The arguments I had over time slowly affected me. I would NEVER have admitted it at the time of each argument. But they add up. So if you worry about winning right there and then, it seems pointless. Just treat it like Christians do, consider yourself just planting a seed. (smile)

  • 16. Joshua  |  July 27, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Capital T truth is sort of a mock way of referring to the absolutist mentality that many faith claims are aired within. Lower case truth is for outsiders who are blindly swerving their way through life, while Truth is for those who have access to the deeper principles of the universe through divine revelation.

    It was Paul who proposed that Christians speak in words that the perishing cannot understand, because they are spiritually appraised. That is Truth. That is Profound.

    truth is discovering your cat just dragged your pants into the cats box. That is not profound.

    All said tongue in cheek, of course :)

  • 17. DSimon  |  July 27, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    Sabio: When I mentioned capital-T Truth, I was being a little facetious, but referring to finding out deep, fundamental facts about the nature of the universe. What’s “deep” and “fundamental” is subjective, but here’s some examples of how I define it:

    * If a deity existed, the knowledge that it existed would be a capital-T Truth.
    * If no deity exists anywhere, knowing that would also be a capital-T Truth. Though I am an atheist, I do not claim to have this knowledge.
    * The Grand Unified Theory, if it can exist and someone came up with it, would be a capital-T Truth. I also feel like a lot of the physics we already know nowadays (for example, the speed of light in a vacuum, and that it is a constant) falls under this category.
    * To understand the mechanism which makes consciousness work would be a super-big-capital-T Truth. I’m particularly interested in this one.

    As a counter-example, the basis of my morality (reduction of suffering) is deeply important to me, but because it’s a personal motivation rather than objective fact, I wouldn’t consider it to be True.

    You mentioned vegetarianism, and the same situation applies there. I’m a vegetarian for reasons of morality, but although it’s important to me, and even something I’m interested in espousing, whether vegetarianism is moral or not isn’t really a matter of objective fact.

  • 18. Quester  |  July 27, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    J. Allen,

    Maybe we don’t want to try and shove knowledge down their throats, but it seems irresponsible to not try and guide people towards making reality based decisions.

    I don’t know about this. I’ve said before on this blog that I see that as similar to giving $500 to everyone you meet in an attempt to fight poverty. Eventually, you reach a point where you can no longer help people and the problem is just as big as ever.

  • 19. DSimon  |  July 27, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    Sabio, read your article, and I agree that we can only approach truth through approximations. However, consider: it seems pretty reasonable to assume that, if the most rigorous experiments replicated by many critical, objectively-minded people result in the knowledge that the speed of light in a vacuum is X, then whatever level of certainty we have about that is so close to maximum that we may as well take it as 100% truth. To have the highest possible level of certainty about a fact be under the threshold where we start saying “I’m totally certain about it” seems unproductive.

    Maybe we’re actually brains in jars in The Matrix and there’s a real universe outside where the speed of light in vacuum is 100 m/s. Or, maybe the universe disappears everywhere I’m not personally witnessing it, and reappears as it ought to wherever I go. Or, maybe we were all spontaneously created 15 seconds ago with all our memories of the events before then already in place. Or, maybe .

    Since the nature of that kind of knowledge prevents us from knowing about it, we’ve got no choice but to just ignore it and keep on figuring out the things we can figure out. Those things we can figure out with maximum certainty, I consider true. If they’re particularly interesting and fundamental facts, I consder them True. :-)

  • 20. DSimon  |  July 27, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Quester, but isn’t that like saying you shouldn’t vote just because your one vote doesn’t matter by itself? Maybe you can’t fight ignorance (or poverty) all by yourself, but you can do what you can do, and hope that others do their part to help as well. (I’m doing a little bit of devil’s advocacy here; I don’t really think it’s a good idea to go around preaching skepticism or atheism to everybody on the street.)

  • 21. DSimon  |  July 27, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    (Ack, note to moderator: I put some text in #19 in angle brackets which I forgot to escape. Can you rescue it for me?)

  • 22. Quester  |  July 27, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    DS,

    When it comes to elections, there are national systems in place. If you think your vote doesn’t matter, fight for the reformation of that system. When it comes to feeding the hungry, I think that establishing and supporting food banks is more useful than buying a meal for an individual. When it comes to fighting scientific illiteracy and lapses of critical thinking, I think that we need to support (and maybe challenge) our schools and libraries, instead of arguing with one person at a time, arguing against one superstitious theory.

    You’re allowed to disagree with me. Occasionally, I give $5 to a panhandler. Sometimes, I argue with someone in order to convince them of my point of view. I am not idealogically pure. But if we’re going to try to improve the world, I think that establishing or supporting systems that provide more opportunities and resources for people to use to help themselves will go farther than trying to make people better.

  • 23. missed last supper  |  July 28, 2009 at 2:09 am

    Thank you for this post which I think sums up my reformed mcdonalds mentality around christianity!
    I live in a small western canadian city with a large christian university!

    In this town, I find I need to take care not to cultivate an attitude of suspicion of others because I’ve had less than pleasant encounters with christians who befriend me for their conversion ego trip! Yet, when I share my life interests I always ask if the person is a christian as I am tired of the illusion of people wanting to be my friend or acquaintance only to have it turned out that I’m talking to a broken part of a metallic human robotic wall with different emotions programmed in to it/them! . Making me lose the essence of who I am and reducing me to a yapper with the illusion of being truly understood.

  • 24. Charon  |  July 28, 2009 at 4:25 am

    Very interesting post. Like DSimon, I’ve never been religious. I’m a scientist, and spend a lot of my time teaching and thinking about science (not just narrow research, but as a whole – scientific method, history of science, philosophy of science). I really like explaining science, and this leads me into arguments about woo things (including religion). So I suppose I’d be called a “militant atheist”.

    Even so, I don’t go around arguing with strangers. I don’t tend to bring it up in conversations, but rather just respond when it arises. I don’t feel responsible for other people, and if they’re strangers, I care about their intellectual state largely insofar as it concerns society as a whole (supporting “alternative” medicine leads to it spreading, denying global warming leads to bad environmental policy, etc.). There’s no soul for me to save.

    So it’s interesting to hear the perspective of the proselytizing religious. They really are far more militant than any atheist could ever be (except perhaps those who are recent deconverts, or who have been badly hurt by religion).

  • 25. Charon  |  July 28, 2009 at 4:31 am

    Oh, and although I do sometimes argue with religious people, I don’t like it much. When people (like religious scientists) start with empirical and logical arguments that I can engage with and disprove, there’s something to talk about. With programmed religious people, it’s just useless (like Mormon missionaries – it’s like talking to low-level tech support, where they can’t think and all they can do is read the manual to you). Even intelligent, educated religious people reach this anti-intellectual core if you argue long enough.

    As Rachel Maddow said, “You can’t win arguments with people who don’t deal in facts.”

    Or as Ben Goldacre put it, “You cannot reason people out of positions they didn’t reason themselves into.”

  • 26. Lucian  |  July 28, 2009 at 5:29 am

    OK. OK. Enough plugging for the EOC.

    … … …And he *FINALLY* recognizes it !!! :-|

  • 27. Vaillant Poznan  |  July 28, 2009 at 7:00 am

    For me atheists trying to convince everyone there’s no god are just as annoying as christians discriminating against everyone else. The point here is to believe in whatever you want.

  • 28. DSimon  |  July 28, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Quester: Actually, I wasn’t talking about bad voting systems. Some people say “Well, since my single vote by itself will, in all liklihood, not change the final decision, why should I vote at all?” It’s that attitude that I disagree with, and which I mistakenly thought I saw in your comment. However, I’m entirely with you on trying to make systemic improvements rather than going around making temporary fixes.

    Vaillant: For me, people trying to get me to stop talking about atheism are just as annoying as Christians trying to get all non-Christians to stop talking about their beliefs. The point here is free discussion.

  • 29. Joshua  |  July 28, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    For me atheists trying to convince everyone there’s no god are just as annoying as christians discriminating against everyone else.

    I am sure this is the case. Personally, I think Quester is more spot on in this area. The idea is not convincing people there is no God, the point is just teaching them science and critical thinking skills. Once those skills are a part of their intellectual and emotional toolbox, hopefully they will have the balls to submit whatever god they believe in to those same tools.

    Promoting free-thought, critical-thinking, lack of self-trust, and an understanding of worldviews is probably worth far more than “convincing” someone else that their favorite deity is a figment of their imagination.

  • 30. Jon  |  July 30, 2009 at 5:44 am

    I was able to (finally) make my peace with this by changing my thinking from Christianity being “the truth” to Christianity being “a truth” This frees me to allow others to embrace whatever truth they choose, but with no need for me to feel they should change it.

  • 31. DSimon  |  July 30, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Jon, does that mean then that you feel that Christianity and Jainism and atheism and Shinto are all equally true at the same time? Or, are you simply saying that you put aside your religious disagreements as not being a good use of time and effort?

    I’m not trying to get on your case here or anything; I have respect for the ideals of getting along and allowing people to believe what they will. However, I don’t understand whether you’re making a social point or a philosophical one.

  • 32. Joshua  |  July 30, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    Well, I can’t speak for Jon, but here is how I see it.

    There is objective truth.

    That said, each individual has their own perception of the truth. In other words, they have an interpretation of the world that to them, at least, appears to contain no lie. After all, if they say a lie, they would no longer believe it. Therefore, all worldviews are, to the holder, “true”.

    In that sense, we cannot technically judge another person for a faulty worldview because when we do so, we basically judge ourselves. So while we can discuss things, we realize that in the end the other person has no choice but to accept what they see as “true”, whether it is or not.

    Everyone has a “true” worldview, just some are more true in actuality than others :)

  • 33. Jon  |  July 31, 2009 at 12:54 am

    31:

    Hi DSimon,
    fair question. What I’m saying is that if anyone starts talking about “the truth” or (and this is more often the case with Christians) “absolute truth”, this begs the obvious question of “which truth is the absolute truth?” That of the Bible, the Koran, Borat? The answer is WE DONT KNOW. Therefore we all hold our own truth, and that’s as it should be. The real irony is that some people (including myself a few tears back) could not see that my absolute belief in absolute truth was actualy nothing more than my truth (which I have subsequently changed)
    Of course I am not discussing facts here (I believe the world is flat so for me it is flat) but matters of belief and faith (Jesus dies for my sins, God requires my obedience, etc)

    Peace,
    Jon

  • 34. Church Man Joe  |  July 31, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Church Man Joe

    My name is Joe – that you should know
    if you went to the weekend show.
    The show called church, where we get fed
    spiritual stuff, all Spirit led.

    I go to church most every week,
    appeasing God so He won’t freak.
    If I don’t go, there’s Hell to pay,
    not just from God, but guilt will stay.
    Others will judge and reject me
    because of my complacency.

    But I do go, am never late,
    making it when they pass the plate.
    Giving to church — a gift to God,
    Give ten percent — I smile and nod.
    Give ten percent, the O.T. states.
    We’re in the New, but it’s church rates.
    Man I hope that makes God happy,
    because I’m in debt and all nappy.
    But pastor said I would get blessed
    above and beyond, it’s my best.

    Now it’s time for me to sing.
    My songs to God sound amazing.
    I raise my arms, antenna sticks,
    all to get my spiritual fix.
    This song sounds like brainwashing chant;
    Wish it would end — it’s like he can’t!
    The worship guy is in a loop,
    Now the song is soundin’ like poop!
    Stand up, sit down, leader will say,
    I don’t know why, but I obey.

    I just lost an hour of my life.
    Time to preach, n’ cut like a knife.
    Pastor is mad, yellin’ at all
    for all their sins, and Adam’s fall.
    Man, I feel real sick and dirty,
    Maybe I’ll pray to feel purty.
    I close my eyes and fold my hands.
    And if I don’t? Can’t take that chance.
    God might see my poor church manners,
    For posture certainly matters.
    Even my clothes God is judging,
    Gotta dress up, for He is watching.

    OK, now it is time to pray.
    I bow my head while I say,

    “Dear God, it is not about me.
    This day for You, I hope You see.
    I went through all this church this day,
    just so that you would get Your way.
    I listened real good and got fed
    by the pastor, who’s Spirit led.
    God I’m so glad I got learn,
    I even feel my conscience burn.”

    I think I’m better now this day,
    compared to those who, in bed, lay.
    While I drove my righteous self home,
    I realized that I’m all alone.

  • 35. Oz  |  August 5, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    Ha ha ha brilliant!

  • 36. Jeffrey  |  August 23, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Josh,

    It was actually your post this morning that inspired this comment, but this one seemed like a more appropriate place to leave it.

    Life as an ex-Christian is much more healthy and enjoyable once you accept that some people are wrong, and that’s it’s okay that they’re wrong. Before I accepted this, I kept on ending up like one of xkcd’s many greats.

  • 37. Rachel  |  September 3, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    In many ways, I feel like some of the Christian commenters on this blog are doing this. They are here to “feel out” why people are leaving the faith, to get a sense of the changes in culture that are causing the church to lose members.

    I wonder if all of the motivations for commenting on this blog are simply “to feel out” why people are leaving Christianity. I think the reasoning behind the questions is to find a way to plead with you to return. That being said, I think many de-cons have no desire to return and many Christians find that to be tragic. And so, we both find each other misguided and mistaken.

    Just don’t forget that we are commanded to plead with you to turn to Christ. Sometimes I think it is hard for Christians to see their God torn down to such a degree and not respond by trying to defend Him. (and in one sense, themselves)

    Just a thought. :)

  • 38. GeorgeZ  |  September 30, 2009 at 7:41 am

    Sure this is going nowhere, but Josh, your post proves you need mental healt care, you are one sick pup.

  • 39. Joshua  |  September 30, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    I don’t know what a healt is, but I do know that people who are riled up tend to misspell things quite a bit and make aimless jabs into the dark.

  • 40. Joshua  |  September 30, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    What other people believe is their business, not mine.

    Unless, of course, they make it my business: like you have.

  • 41. Joshua  |  September 30, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    Sure this is going nowhere, but Josh, your post proves you need mental healt care, you are one sick pup.

    Can we create a “best quotes” section on this website, in addition to a “Christian Hatemail” section? I just feel like that quote by GeorgeZ belongs somewhere in a hall of fame.

  • 42. Joshua  |  September 30, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    All that said, George… I really feel for you. Sorry if we’ve hurt you in some way that it would make you want to retaliate in such a hateful manner. I know the feeling of having something precious to you be attacked.

  • 43. James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil  |  December 7, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    The religious reich (of any faith) are always “offended”, sometimes violently, when anyone speaks the least disparagement of their faith. But they cannot comprehend that non-believers can be offended by the constant barrage of “get right with god” and other religious “witnessing” rational people must endure on a daily basis.

    I have no real problem with any religion as long as they don’t try to force their beliefs on me by force of law or threat of violence. These are the same thing as legal violence is not much different than physical violence. It’s often the same, isn’t it?

    So, deists, go your own way, stop trying to brainwash my children and everyone around you and stay in your own fantasy world. I promise to leave you alone as long as you grant me the same courtesy. Until then, expect to catch hell from me in the same measure as you deliver it.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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