Invisible Beings + Imagination = Drama

June 6, 2011 at 10:24 am 42 comments

This post will hopefully be short. I have not written much in a while but recently have been solving what I believe to be a direct result of strong religious influence: drama.

It has occurred to me that fundamentalist beliefs are a direct precursor to drama. All those sayings about “keeping alert” and never letting yourself be lulled to spiritual slumber brought me, on more than one occassion, to wonder why is nothing spiritual happening? And then, in my own way, I would begin seeking out signs of drama occurring to confirm to myself that something spiritual was happening.

And then you have pastor’s making overarching statements like “if you have not been involved in leading someone to the Lord or witnessing recently then you should check your spiritual life out to make sure you are not becoming spiritually lazy” or the apostle Paul saying drama dripping statements like “if you want to be godly you will be persecuted” (paraphrased). The obvious implication is that if you are not being persecuted you are not being godly enough. Therefore: seek drama!

From doing some reading on the internet I’ve come to realize that drama is a natural human reaction to boredom. This makes some sense when one considers that concept of a small-town gossip, but it makes even more sense to me when considering all the drama in churches back home where everyone is looking for signs of spiritual activity of some sort. Everyone wanted a stable, united church but everyone also wanted spiritual warfare to be visible in their lives so they did not feel spiritually lazy.

The end result? Drama.

Fast forward to today: I have come to realize that the drama in my life (just read some of my old posts) has lingered until today. I find myself almost subconsciously double-checking my emotions and if I do not “feel right” its almost like I get a little rush from it. It takes me back to all the times I thought that Satan was involved in a situation when in reality someone (maybe me) was just being an ass or someone was just in a bad mood. It was almost like my belief that everything was right was fueled by feeling that something was wrong. Because, after all, if you felt a dark spiritual presence attacking you that must mean you are right with the Lord. Or you are wrong with the Lord. In any case, it was a little fuel for the spiritual fire. And going from those dark, black moods to a realization that they are actually a sign that everything is good is the ultimate rush. I’ll dub it spiritual bipolarism.

We grew up learning about the spiritual “greats”: Spurgeon, C.S. Lewis, Edwards, etc. The one thing I do remember reading, though, is that all of these men – in their own way – suffered from deep depression for large periods of their life.

Could it be that the “spiritual depression” and drama are a direct result of the underlying concept that seeing drama is the ultimate way to confirm to yourself you are in a spiritual battle and thus succeeding spiritually?

Just a thought :)

- Josh

Entry filed under: Josh. Tags: .

“…and lo, I looked, and the Pale Horseman did pick up a few bucks on the side…” Top 10 reasons why men should not be ordained for ministry

42 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ubi Dubium  |  June 6, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Yay, new post! It’s been awhile!

    I’m seeing a large amount of “confirmation bias” in this focus on drama. If everything is going great, then god is blessing you, which is evidence that your beliefs are correct. And if everything sucks, then you are being persecuted and engaging in “spiritual warfare” which is also evidence that your beliefs are correct. If everything is boring, well nobody really pays much attention to the parts of life that are boring, so they don’t count. Forget those. Or you can change things so that everything sucks again, so that you can continue to prove yourself right.

    Notice that everything memorable that happens is interpreted to say “look how correct I am!” Nothing is ever interpreted as “maybe this is all rubbish.”

  • 2. evangelically incorrect  |  June 11, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    Great thoughts. I love the phrase “spiritual bipolarism!” lol

    I went to a small black charismatic church once. Talk about drama! EVERYTHING was urgent and crisis and super-important and God or the Devil. It was exhilarating but exhausting.

  • 3. Joshua  |  June 13, 2011 at 1:03 am

    Exhilarating but exhausting: what a perfect way to put it! And yet, in a way, I think it is super easy to get addicted to that back and forth because it implies *something* is changing or happening.

  • 4. Infidel  |  June 13, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    Yes, but only for us who cared.

    I remember being so angry at my fellow church members and other believers for being so indifferent about Jesus. They just did the church thing and that was good enough for them. I wanted to preach the gospel, heal the sick, raise the dead.

    I WANTED TO BE A “BOOK OF ACTS” CHURCH!!!

    But only about 5 other people in the church I went to felt the same way.

  • 5. Ubi Dubium  |  June 14, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Infidel, do you think that you being one of the ones who cared is part of what led you to your deconversion? I’m trying to remember how many deconversion stories I have heard from people who said they were apatheists before, and I don’t remember very many. Of course, I don’t want to be guilty of confirmation bias, since perhaps I just don’t remember those stories, or perhaps those people do deconvert, but aren’t passionate enough to write about their experience.

  • 6. Infidel  |  June 14, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Ubi,

    Yes I do because I took it seriously. Since I truly believed, I expected New Testament things to be the normative experience for believers. When it wasn’t, I at first blamed the believers. But as the years wore on and a realized that God wasn’t moving for anyone except a certain well connected, self-promoting few I began to lose faith.

  • 7. Dex  |  June 14, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Well, as someone who believes in no moral absolutes (as discovered by reading previous posts) it doesn’t really matter if people are diluting themselves or not. To discuss why it is wrong or even foolish is purely subjective and really is just as morally valid as any other belief anyone has about anything. The interesting thing I see about people who talk about sociobiology and how it explains the illusion of morals is that they still discuss why things are wrong or bad. Didn’t your previous statements about the illusion of morals change your stance about discussing things that are morally based? Didn’t you already establish that to do so is essentially a joke? The illusion is one even the most militant of atheists proudly proclaim the existence of and yet ignore its implications.

    However deeply embedded in an illusion these people may be you are still a part of it. You have discussions with friends I’m sure about fairy tale concepts like ethics or right or wrong even though you believe they are illusions. If you are going to address the world materially then shouldn’t you really be discussing the rush of serotonin you got from an enjoyable food rather then saying you enjoyed it? And when you see a rape and think, “that’s disgusting” aren’t you really just thinking something subjective? Then let’s not act like we ought to do anything and acknowledge that chaos is normal even if we think its wrong. That is that genocide, murder, rape and the like are all actually not wrong or right but illusions. It still feels strange to say that though doesn’t it? It’s just the illusion at work.

  • 8. Dex  |  June 14, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    “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.”

    Hahahahaha, what?! You already claimed in another post moral absolutes are an illusion and then claim people should live with “love”? This is hilarious and ironic for someone making a blog about delusions. Love is subjective remember? By whose standards of love should we all live by? Yours? This is a fantastic example of the paradox of atheists who claim no moral absolutes then say we should “love” one another. I can’t thank you enough for this example.

  • 9. Ubi Dubium  |  June 16, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Wow, Dex, way to not pay attention. First, I have to laugh at people “diluting” themselves. (Perhaps you should try homoepathic religion – the less you have the better it works!! Ha!!)

    Just because there isn’t a god-decreed one-time perfect-for-all standard of morals doesn’t mean that ethical rules don’t matter. We are a competitive species, yet intensely social. We depend for our survival on the well-being of the society that we live in, and ethical rules are what allow societies to hold together and function. Since the structure of our society is not fixed in stone for all time, neither can the rules which govern it be. We must strive to establish the set of moral rules that work the best to create well-being for individuals and well-functioning societies in the world in which we actually live right now. Love, in all it’s forms, works as part of every successful ethical system ever, and so we value it. It’s not illusory, it’s pragmatism.

  • 10. Dex  |  June 16, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Well see, that’s just it, you assume a well-functioning society is good as a foregone conclusion when it is still subjective. It doesn’t matter if our society or even species prospers; rather we would just be added to the massive heap of species that didn’t make it throughout evolutionary history. We may subjectively view our species’ survival as a good thing but for many other species it would be beneficial if we did not survive. You’re still making subjective claims based on material evidence. And you still haven’t defined love. Love is in fact a subjective term; radical Muslims murder their daughters in the name of love and Charlie Manson and the Manson family believed the murders they committed were done with love. So who’s version of love should we use, and more importantly, why? I can see you want so badly to link material ideals to non-material ideals but that is not possible. Science can say nothing in the non-material realm so let’s stop pretending that it does.

    Furthermore, if you want to bring survival into this discussion then I say let’s take your example further (“Since the structure of our society is not fixed in stone for all time, neither can the rules which govern it be). Wouldn’t this line of reasoning claim that morals are molded by what is best for survival? On a macro scale this may explain your holding on to morals in the larger scheme, but we have situations on a micro scale that would allow for murder, stealing, and even possibly rape for survival. A great example of this would be a quote from C.S. Lewis, “If we cut up beasts simply because they cannot prevent us and because we are backing our own side in the struggle for existence, it is only logical to cut up imbeciles, criminals, enemies, or capitalists for the same reasons.” You can’t apply the survival reasoning to morals in one instance and ignore it in others, either our survival mechanisms are to be adhered to as our reasoning or not.

  • 11. Ubi Dubium  |  June 16, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Sure, our species will probably end up on the heap of species that didn’t make it someday. I don’t see what that has to do with how we develop rules for living with one another now. I rather like our species, and would like it to have a long and successful run, thanks. I don’t think I’m out of line in saying that most humans probably share the view that the survival of humanity is worthwhile.

    “Love” has many definitions, and encompasses many ideas. It is a pretty vague word in that respect. But if we said something like “your life should be lived with reciprocal altruism, because in the long run it’s an effective survival strategy for your contribution to the gene pool” we’d just lose a lot of the less well-educated readers.

    Science can say nothing in the non-material realm so let’s stop pretending that it does.

    That’s an assertion that a lot of people make, but I don’t agree. Sam Harris recently wrote a rather good book on the subject, asserting that we can and should study moral values objectively. I think it’s a good idea to question the “science can’t say anything about values” assumption; science may have rather a lot to say about morals, it’s too soon to tell. Evaluating the relative value of different cultural ideas about “love” should be part of this.

    On a macro scale this may explain your holding on to morals in the larger scheme, but we have situations on a micro scale that would allow for murder, stealing, and even possibly rape for survival.

    But those things weaken our society as a whole, and so humans have a common interest in eliminating such things. Survival is not only about your own survival, but that of your offspring and those of your kin, and their offspring and so forth. Long-term, their survival is better served by a society that enforces rules against murder, theft, and the like.

    You can’t apply the survival reasoning to morals in one instance and ignore it in others, either our survival mechanisms are to be adhered to as our reasoning or not.

    Our survival hinges on our striking a good balance between individual agression and group socialization. I don’t get your “either/or” point here.

    And I don’t see how ANY of this relates to what we’re talking about on this thread, which is how fundamentalist churches deliberately generate drama to help maintain their grip on their followers. Do you have anything to contribute to that discussion?

  • 12. Dex  |  June 16, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Your argument in the first paragraph contains the fallacy of consensus. Just because most people would agree with you about our species survival being a good thing still doesn’t objectively say it is correct.

    I have no doubt you have difficulty believing that the material can’t say anything about the non-material but to say otherwise would be a logical fallacy. If I were to claim that science has proved the existence of God you would laugh at me. So then, claiming that science can prove morals is just as much of a stretch. Both lie in the non-material realm.

    In terms of the discussion, “drama” is something I would assume any group trying to change the world would encounter. If one were to go around trying to change the whole moral system of the world I would expect backlash. This is more what the apostle Paul was referring to and not over-zealous southern Baptist styled Christians. You however chose the negatively connotative word drama to apply it to over-spiritualistic Christians. Of course it is easy to avoid drama if we choose to stay at home and simply voice our opinions over the internet via blogs but any protest of a moral injustice results in drama. I would agree that if you haven’t had much “drama” in your life then you likely haven’t had to stand up for what you think is right very often, if at all. Luckily for you, the belief in a lack of moral absolutes is perfectly in line with a certain amount of indifference.

    Here’s the link to past claims on this blog that moral absolutes are an illusion:

    http://de-conversion.com/2009/04/26/the-illusion-of-moral-absolutes/

    The whole point of mentioning this as it pertains to your discussion is that your beliefs contain hypocrisies also (the above link demonstrates this quite well). It is a very safe position to talk with people who agree with us and share our thoughts because no one ever questions what we talk about. The bravery I would say of the bible or any other religious book of doctrine is that they place their doctrines out where everyone can see to be judged as people see fit. What statements have you put out there for everyone to see? Do you even know what your beliefs are or do you make it up as you go along? Can your own ideas be evaluated further to ensure correctness? These are excellent questions for any believer of anything to ask themselves on a continual basis, including Christians and atheists.

    If you have devoted an entire blog to criticizing Christian beliefs surely you can’t object to a little criticism of your own beliefs.

  • 13. Ubi Dubium  |  June 17, 2011 at 8:27 am

    The point on drama is not that it should be avoided, it’s that churches are deliberately trying to manufacture as much drama as possible as a mechanism for manipulating people.

    If you were to claim that science has proved god, I would indeed laugh at you. If you were to claim that you thought it might be possible for science to prove god, I would not. I’d be interested in what kind of research you thought might be useful toward exploring the question. Likewise, I don’t think that science has yet determined what our future ethical values should be, but I think that it is possible that research in this area will prove useful. Certainly more useful than a 2000-year-old book written by a bunch of bronze-age tribal goatherders.

    Quoting other posts here looking for consistency isn’t that helpful, since this not my blog, nor one person’s opinion blog, but a group effort. There isn’t one point of view here, but an assortment of voices. This is a support group for those finding their way out of the morass of religion. If you are religious and happy that way, go argue someplace else. I suggest Pharyngula, they’d be happy to have at you.

    My irony meter just broke on your skepticism accusations. My internet handle comes from the latin phrase “Ubi dubium, ibi libertas”, or “where there is doubt, there is freedom.” I’m not only a skeptic, I teach skepticism and critical thinking. You’ve come in here, derailed a thread about religious histrionics, and spent your time attacking the idea that ethical codes are something that humans have to work out for themselves, without offering any alternative explanation. If your only suggestion is “divine revelation”, then, again, go argue in a more appropriate forum.

    It is a very safe position to talk with people who agree with us and share our thoughts because no one ever questions what we talk about.

    Which internet are you on?

    Can your own ideas be evaluated further to ensure correctness? These are excellent questions for any believer of anything to ask themselves on a continual basis, including Christians and atheists.

    Agreed. That question should be asked of everyone, all the time. Be sure you have done the same.

  • 14. Dex  |  June 17, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Okay then, how about this, I’ll question my belief that a moral code does exist even if science cannot prove it if you’ll question your belief that science can offer explanations for why any code of morality should objectively be followed. If we both assume we are correct about our own assumptions then we haven’t really done that last bit have we?

    I have enjoyed our back and forth (even if I have annoyed you a bit) and do appreciate your feedback on these topics. I will admit I started out being a bit harsh and for that I apologize. I can appreciate both of our positions as I have been on both sides of the fence. We will just have to agree to disagree.

    I do also appreciate that you teach critical thinking; I too often find people who consider themselves in my sphere of belief who have blown things way out of proportion and end up looking like snake oil salesman. I suppose I was just trying to establish a picture of a critically thinking believer in something else, not necessarily Christianity.

    Thanks for the dialogue.

  • 15. Anonymous  |  June 18, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Drama has ALWAYS been a part of religion. If you study the history of theater, the earliest plays were religious stories. Because drama played such a big role in “pagan” religions, the earliest Christians were deeply suspicious of theater–at first. Even today there are Christians who are opposed to certain types of entertainment, such as movies. This is where that attitude comes from.

    The oldest Christian churches are liturgical churches. And liturgy is a form of drama. When the Reformation did away with the Mass and with liturgy, they had to replace it with something. It might not be formally structured, and it might not be acknowledged as drama but it is drama just the same.

  • 16. Neil C. Reinhardt  |  June 21, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Hi All,

    I’m posting three things and asking this blogs owner to please contact me, I hope the two I post will interest at least many, if not most, of you.

    Via a post in the THINKATHEIST forum i was just informed ther is a Brand New ATHEIST movie coming out. It is named:

    “THE LEDGE”, it is BY MATTHEW CHAPMAN,

    COMING OUT JULY 8, IN NEW YORK FIRST,

    DON’T MISS IT

    And even though I am very displeased about Un-Justly being banned from the THINKATHEIST Forum by some power hungry, biased and unfair “moderator” named Nelson, I do INVITE ALL of you Non-Believers to JOIN it and Invite your friends to join as well

    http://www.thinkatheist.com/main/invitation/new?xg_source=msg_wel_network

    Last, I am again listing the names of the four Atheist Organizations I belong to.

    http://www.Atheists.org/

    http://www.AtheistsUnited.org/

    http://www.FFRF.org/

    http://MAAF.info/

    IF you are not already a member of one, or more, of them, and you think Atheists should be treated as equally fairly as anyone else, PLEASE JOIN and support at least one of them.

    Thank You!

    Neil C. Reinhardt

  • 17. anti_supernaturalist  |  June 25, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    from a cultured despiser:
    notice to believers in the Big-3 Monster Theisms

    You’re welcome to your own beliefs, not your own truths.
    You’re welcome to your own faiths, not your own knowledge.
    You’re welcome to your own interpretations, not your own reality.

    Establishing truth, knowledge, and reality require open, testable evidence. Subjective certainty is not a proxy for evidence.

    You may not impose your beliefs, faiths, or interpretations — your lying fables — on anyone.

    Faith, the trusting suspension of rationality, has always been theater of the absurd.

    the anti_supernaturalist

  • 18. anti_supernaturalist  |  June 25, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    Curing faith-based hangovers
    absolutist ethics / religion creates morality / morality is to be enforced

    Western atheists and theists alike operate on the very same narrow bandwidth of “knowledge”.

    The Big-3 Monster Theisms have polluted culture for so long that their doctrines on human action (morality) remain accepted by millions who think “God” is dead.

    • Old King God was a sullen old sod: my morality is absolute / my religion creates morality / my morality is to be enforced.

    Nonsense:
    1. There is no inherent relationship between religion and morals.
    2. Xian “ethics” is not ethical at all — it is inherently antisocial.
    3. Confucian principles indicate the cultural basis of moral codes.

    • Jesus’ mores are antisocial, otherworldly, and impractical. He promises much, and delivers nothing. Jesus’ “interim ethic” couldn’t outlast one generation of true believers. After all, the world was about to end. But it didn’t. (Sermon on the Mount — search term: interim ethic)

    The antisocial irrationality of Paul of Tarsus (fl. 50-65 CE) with its anti-intellectualism, misogyny, and revenge seeking has poisoned the West for 2,000 years. After all, the world was about to end — but it didn’t. (Read 1Cor1:20-26 NIV)

    • Five hundred years before historical fiction Jesus and hysterical Paul, Confucius was eons ahead of contemporary xian (jewish/islamist) thinking:

    6:20 Fan Ch’ih asked what constituted wisdom. The Master said, “To give one’s self earnestly to the duties due to men, and, while respecting spiritual beings, to keep aloof from them, may be called wisdom.”

    No relationship between religion, “spiritual beings” and morality, “the duties due to men.”

    15:23 Tsze-kung asked, saying, “Is there one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life?” The Master said, “Is not ‘reciprocity’ such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” [trans. S.R. McIntyre 2003]

    What follows? No religion police! No prelate, priest, pastor, rabbi, imam is needed to dictate human behavior.

    All ethics is irreducibly social. Killing an in-group member (a person) deliberately is murder.

    Harming others cannot be generalized; otherwise, no culture could exist.

    the anti_supernaturalist

  • 19. Dex  |  June 26, 2011 at 2:28 am

    So I suppose then that the anti-super-naturalist has rejected a moral code and does not live by one at all except for his or her own beliefs which come subjectively. After all, to do so is to live outside the material realm and to delve into the non-material. Your strict code of anti-subjectivity has forced you to live in a world of ridiculousness in which nothing you hold true morally is actually true. Only the falsifiable evidence is worth following and nothing you do morally will change that. And nothing you do is moral at all. It is merely an impression you have subjectively implied from whatever you believe. Nothing can be proven to matter and so any argument about ethics and morals can be left to the Idiots and philosophers right? Except somehow you have assimilated yourself into the moral world, one which apart from strict materialism still trudges on no less. Your arguments, lofty as they may be, have shown you to be a hypocrite and a fool by your own standards of living and logic. You can’t prove a thing you believe to be right morally and yet I guarantee that regardless, you’ll argue on your side of “rightness” in moral issues. If materialism is your game, then you are forced to drop the act of moral correctness. Why can’t you let go?

  • 20. Andrew  |  September 22, 2011 at 5:40 am

    “So I suppose then that the anti-super-naturalist has rejected a moral code and does not live by one at all except for his or her own beliefs which come subjectively.”

    Like every other human being on Earth… just most don’t admit it.

  • 21. Joshua  |  October 1, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    These posts are really old but I figure I’ll throw in my perspective.

    Knowledge is good, but absolute knowledge is impossible. I’m taking an AI class and in some of the problems that are presented, we discover that the possible combinations that have to be searched exceeds the number of atoms in the universe. In other words, a simple problem (how can you place 8 queens on a chess board so that none of them can attack each other) involves searching so many configurations there would be no way to store them with all the matter in the universe.

    Morality is good, but absolute morality is impossible. The reason? Because there will always be a configuration of beings such that their relation to each other will result in a moral dilemma that cannot be solved absolutely.

    Take lying for example. One cannot say that lying is absolutely morally wrong. Or how about deception. One cannot say that deception is absolutely morally wrong either. If it is absolutely morally wrong, then God is a moral law breaker (God blinds the minds of the unbelievers so that they cannot see the truth).

    So is lying wrong? It is relative to the situation. In other words, we must use our minds and understand the entirety of a situation in order to determine what is “right”… or that which will eliminate the most harm.

    I don’t have to believe in “absolute knowledge” in order to study knowledge, and I don’t have to believe in an “absolute morality” in order to be moral.

  • 22. Joshua  |  October 1, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Okay, I got the 8-queens problem mixed up with another one, but the principle still applies

  • 23. Jesse Gardner  |  October 14, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    Anyone who has ever opposed something firmly entrenched within a culture or society—Christian or not—has faced “drama”.

    Martin Luther may have been embroiled in theatrical drama because of his decision not to recant, but Martin Luther King faced tremendous opposition to the point of death because of his belief that black folks should be treated the same as white folks. The group that tried to assassinate Hitler certainly faced the highest levels of drama and that was primarily a moral decision, not religious.

    Christians frequently experience “drama” because of the nature and scale of what they believe and the state of the fallen world around them.

  • 24. Ubi Dubium  |  October 19, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    Jesse

    “Christians frequently experience “drama” because of the nature and scale of what they believe and the state of the fallen world around them.”

    You are missing the point of this post. The world is not fallen. Some people behave badly, some don’t. Christians need to believe they are being persecuted because that’s what their book will says will happen, so they manufacture drama where none exists. If they aren’t feeling persecuted, then their perfect book woudn’t be perfect, and they couldn’t have that!

  • 25. Josh  |  October 20, 2011 at 1:51 am

    Exactly Ubi, that was my point.

    Some teenagers create drama because they feel they are missing out on something if they are not constantly involved in some sort of sexually charged triangle. I think some Christians do the same thing, creating persecution so that they can feel special.

  • 26. Mason  |  October 20, 2011 at 8:27 am

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/28/world/meast/iran-pastor-trial/index.html

    This guy must have just wanted drama because he was bored.

    I think this entire post takes something characteristically human and tries to apply it only to Christianity. These types of behaviors are walked out by so many people in and out of Christianity it really comes off as careless to apply it only to the religion that you happen to not like. Have you never seen a teenager (or an adult for that matter) use drama to get attention? Whether or not Christians may do this in their spiritual lives does not address that people do this anyways to feel sorry for themselves or whatever the reason may be. Your bias is a little too obvious for me to take seriously your assertions.

    By the way, I love that you tell people to make a subjectively-positive change in the world around them in your wager. It’s probably just easier to use Christian-based morality then have to think of your own I imagine.

  • 27. Ubi Dubium  |  October 23, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Excuse me, but how is “kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place” Christian-based morality? Christians didn’t invent any of that. Those are human values, no religion has an exclusive on those.

    I think this entire post takes something characteristically human and tries to apply it only to Christianity.

    I don’t think so. I think that the Christians are taking something characteristically human, and trying to use it to further their own ends and make themselves feel persecuted and special. Maybe other religions do that too. But this post wasn’t about them.

  • 28. Jesse Gardner  |  October 23, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Ubi: I understood the point of this post, but I disagree with the accusation that Christians are intentionally generating drama for their own personal ends. My argument is that drama is inherent given the scope of how they perceive the world and not something manufactured to make themselves feel special. I’ll concede that you could argue the worldview was manufactured, but you’ve got the cart before the horse, assigning malicious intent to folks, many of whom are sincerely trying to address evil in the world.

    You may not believe the world is fallen, or you may believe that people are inherently good. It really doesn’t matter. As long as you concede that some people do bad things, you have to admit that trying to deal with that reality brings with it a certain level of drama, which was really the point I was trying to make in the first place.

    Perhaps an example from my life might better help explain the point I’m trying to make: I’m involved in a lot of counseling, and any time I try to help people work through their problems, there’s always drama involved. It’s very real drama, and if I want to help people through their problems, I have to be willing to roll up my sleeves and get right in the middle of it all. I could skip it altogether, but I feel like that’s self-centered, and that’s not how I want to live my life.

    Doing anything good or helpful involves risk, which invariables means drama.

  • 29. Ubi Dubium  |  October 24, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Yes, there’s plenty of real drama in the world. People generate quite enough of their own. But that doesn’t explain the hysteria of holy-roller revival meetings, or preachers telling their flock that they’d better watch their every thought because Satan is waiting around every corner to get them, or accusing atheists of waging “war on christmas”.

    I don’t think that your average christian believer is deliberately generating extra drama. But I think the leaders of their institutions are. It’s a way they can keep themselves at the center of attention, keep the sheep mindlessly following them, and keep the money flowing in. Have you ever seen a televangelist get up and say: “There’s no special spiritual crisis right now. People are just dealing with their everyday lives as best they can, just like always”? No!! They never do that!!! They talk about “spiritual warfare” and “satanic influences” and doomsday this, and armageddon that. There’s always some disaster on the horizon that can be averted if only the faithful pray harder, believe harder, and cough up a little more money, hallejujah!

    That’s the kind of drama that de-converts are often really glad to be rid of.

  • 30. Jesse Gardner  |  October 24, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Keep in mind, I’m one of those said leaders. :) Perhaps you could argue that I’m inviting drama by commenting on this site, but I can say with a pretty clear conscience that I’m honestly pursuing an understanding of truth in the world (which brings me to have open conversations like this one).

    Anyhow, I do agree with you, though, that there are a lot of professed leaders who are using people for their gain; but again, that’s not distinctly Christian. I’ve known some bosses who generated drama so they could swoop in and be the hero. Many politicians (not all) use people’s weakness, fear and ignorance to hang on to power.

    It’s all around us—opportunists preying on other people for their own gain—and I personally try to oppose it wherever I have the ability: church, state or elsewhere.

  • 31. Mason  |  October 27, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Ubi, I see you don’t really have a perspective on the origin of where morality has come from in the past and distant past. Compassion and mercy haven’t always been valued in humanity so acting as though they are some sort of self-evident truth not only comes off as ignorant but also somewhat spiritual. Look back in history and try to find where those concepts have been valued. You’re so used to the air you breath that you have no idea where it came from.

    Also, do you suppose creating an entire website focused on a religion one doesn’t even believe in would be an example of creating drama and the illusion of persecution? The irony is killing me. I find it fascinating how much time people spend time thinking about something they say they don’t believe in. It’s like the old expression, “against abortion? Don’t get one”. Not Christian? Then don’t be one. Try knitting or something instead of whining (drama) about something you claim has no significance. If the real reason it is focused on is that you’re mad at God for you’re perception that he does not exist, then maybe address that instead.

    Additionally, I appreciate that you didn’t mention the first aspect of my response; when presented with an actual example of a refutation of your claims, it is ignored, further illustrating a certain lack of objective thinking.

  • 32. Infidel  |  October 27, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    I’ve stayed out of this so far, but I can’t let Mason’s slam against this site go unanswered. In case you didn’t notice, this site is called “de-conversion.com”. As the name implies it is aimed at those of us who have or are deconverting from religion, mainly Christianity. This site’s message boards (when they were up) helped me tremendously as I walked the painful path of deconversion.

    This site is not about a being we don’t believe in It is about people who NO LONGER believe and the thoughts and feelings we have. Many times we are incredulous that we used to believe such things.

    I suggest that if you can’t handle the “irony” of this site, you can go elsewhere. I’m not saying that you’re not welcome here, but this is just about the only place we can come to say what we feel about our former faith.

  • 33. Ubi Dubium  |  October 28, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Thank you Infidel, I agree.

    Compassion and mercy have been valued in many societies. Study some history. I have a copy of the Egyptian “Book of the Dead” that predates all of the xian bible. Do you know what it says? It has the deceased telling the gods “I have not murdered, I have not cheated, I have given to the poor” Why does he say this? So that he will have a happy afterlife and not be found wanting when his heart is weighed in his final judgment. Christianity claims credit, but they didn’t invent any of those ideas.

    Mason, this is a suppport group for those of us who are no-longer religious but still have to live in this religion-soaked society. We have to deal with people like you every day, people who blame humans for everything bad, but give them no credit for anything good. People who tell us we’re bad people for not believing in their invisible friend.

    AND – when we point out the damage that religion does to people’s lives, what response do we get? “Go knit, and quit whining.” Religions desperately want atheists to shut up and go away. They want us to stop threatening their comfortable worldview with difficult questions. They cry persecution when we suggest that they are enjoying undeserved privilege. They try to insert themselves into every facet of our lives, and blame us for “whining” when we object. (And I don’t appreciate the slam on knitting either. I’m very good at it, and when I’m finished I have a sweater, which is more than anyone can say about prayer.)

    Mason, you walked into our “Religioholics Anonymous” meeting. Do you walk into AA meetings and tell them to quit whining about alcohol? How would you expect them to react if you did that?

    So, respectfully, buzz off.

  • 34. Jesse Gardner  |  October 28, 2011 at 10:10 am

    I’m not trying to be a jerk, but while you’re busy tossing Mason out on his rump, I’m trying to make some relevant points you seem to have both overlooked. I haven’t blamed either of you for whining, I’ve tried to make some sound, logical arguments against your reasoning in this article. Is said “buzz off” meant for me as well?

  • 35. Infidel  |  October 28, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Unless you feel threatened by those of us who are merely defending the existence of this site, no I am not interested in telling you to buzz off.

    Mason was mocking us because this site exists, that is all I was taking him to task for. He (and you) are more than welcome to argue your points. As Ubi said, you don’t go to an AA meeting and tell them to get over it and quit talking about the horrors of alcohol. After all, there are billions of people who have no problems with it, right? Please.

  • 36. Ubi Dubium  |  October 28, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    Jesse, that “buzz off” was definitely meant for Mason. We get way too many people like him on this kind of website.

    “It’s all around us—opportunists preying on other people for their own gain—and I personally try to oppose it wherever I have the ability: church, state or elsewhere.”

    Agreed. It’s everywhere and I am glad that you try to oppose it. Drama generation is a natural human thing to do. But I find it especially reprehensible when used by religion. First, because religion usually claims to have some kind of “moral high ground”, and this kind of artificial drama is not consistent with that. Second, because people are often more reluctant to leave a church than quit a job or vote against a politician. If a church leader is pulling this kind of thing, and one of the members is really uncomfortable with that, there is often significant pressure on them not to leave. I’ve read far too many accounts of churches using threats, guilt, social ostracism and anything else they can come up with to keep unhappy members from leaving. If you quit a job because of a boss like this you “made a judgment call”. But if you quit a church because it’s doing the same thing, you’re a “sinner”, a “backslider”, you’re “in the grip of the devil,” etc, etc.

    I hope that in the organization you lead this kind of thing does not happen.

    As much as I would like to see religion decline and eventually disappear, the reality is that we are stuck with it for a long time to come. So, any move by church leaders away from fanaticism, drama and intolerance is an improvement. I am usually pleased when a church leader actually engages in conversation with non-believers instead of just preaching at us.

  • 37. Mason  |  November 1, 2011 at 8:53 am

    Well unfortunately this is the problem I see; while you claim that this site is meant simply for helping ex-Christians walk out of their faith while you relentlessly bash Christianity in the process and are surprised when people are offended by your discussions. You know why I wouldn’t walk into an AA meeting and tell them to quit whining? They know alcohol is a problem for THEM and THEM ALONE. They don’t say they should abolish it and spend their meetings talking about how to get rid of alcohol or how stupid people who drink are. Even they recognize the subjectivity of their problem while you ignore yours. Last time I checked in my area 90% of all the homeless shelters and soup kitchens are run by Christian organizations. You know why I say this? Because while many of you claim that Christianity is so (insert negative adjective here) they are doing something with their beliefs and are responsible for a lot of really positive things in this world, regardless of how you may have been affected by your circumstances.

    If the problem was that you had a negative experience with Christianity then at least be objective enough to realize that you don’t represent a majority and that many people have great experiences with it. You are feigning persecution by now acting like this is a support group while you sling mud at an entire belief system; something AA absolutely does not do. You know why I was defensive? What I was reading people say did not look like a support group at all but rather another “atheists agree with each other” website. Inflammatory comments and all. I saw a lightning rod for for people disenfranchised with Christianity.

    Also, I’m still waiting on a reaction to the Christian pastor in Iran sentenced to death and the drama surrounding it. Funny how the weighty stuff gets glossed over.

  • 38. Ubi Dubium  |  November 1, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Mason, if you want a forum for arguing with atheists and trumpeting how great and superior your religion is, there are plenty of them. Elsewhere.

    If you want to joust, I recommend “Pharyngula”. Go there and have at it.

    This is a “sanctuary” for people who are hurting. They need to vent, they need to talk about what they have been through, and they need a shoulder to lean on.

    Please leave them alone. Religion has caused them enough pain; they don’t need more of it.

  • 39. Mason  |  November 2, 2011 at 8:16 am

    Well that is certainly not my intention; I really only get defensive because I have found something that works for me when nothing else did and may very well have saved my life. Is my religion better? No. Religion is the problem. Too often it is the super-religious who condemn and throw away good people who deserve better. So in the purpose of the site, I support you. In the bashing of the entire belief system I however cannot.

    In case no one else has, I would like to apologize to everyone here on behalf of myself and anyone who claimed they were Christian that may have hurt anyone on this site. There are a lot of mislead people in the church who have no place as leaders. I am sincerely sorry and just hope that perhaps you can maybe one day see the good that I find in the belief-system, even if you do not believe in it yourself.

    I just have to add that my previous posts were not really a good example of someone living a Christ-filled life so I’m sorry I let you guys down….

    I’m sorry.

  • 40. Jesse Gardner  |  November 2, 2011 at 8:26 am

    I’m unsubscribing from these comments. Too much drama. ;)

  • 41. accodiase  |  November 9, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Hi! i’m like you post: to my @mrulkcis twitter

  • 42. slavcentrinfo344  |  November 15, 2011 at 8:50 am

    Hi! i’m Re-twit you post: Invisible Beings Imagination = Drama « de-conversion to my http://www.twitter.com/#!/slavcentrinfo

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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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