Ok jb, here’s the long-promised post. I am in no way going to try to talk you out of your belief in God. I’m simply going to try to frame this so it makes more sense to you – I want you to understand why
we don’t agree, hopefully in a way that may be easier for you to relate to.
I want to begin with a couple of observations that had to be considered in order for me to go forward.
Much of the disputing seems to be at least in part over semantics:
1. Your position (I think from the beginning) is that your belief in God is not a bad thing, and – this is important – that you mostly agree that organized religion is not what you are talking about. If I’m correct about that (?), I actually agree with you (more on that later – there are qualifiers). But your post is titled “Believing in God is Not a Bad Thing”, and it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to find agreement here; I’m quite certain that you’ve noticed. It’s because you didn’t specify that you are only referring to yourself (I assume).
2. You’ve also indicated that you do not consider yourself a christian, and I’m not going to argue the semantics of that with you; I understand what I think you mean – you do not chose to attach yourself to the organized practice of Christianity, so you reject that term in application to yourself. I can accept that as well, again after noting that from a semantic view, technically, you are. I understand the line you are drawing and will leave it where you have placed it.
I want to start with your premise that your belief is not harmful to you. As I stated above, I do agree, for the most part. However, it really does bother me that you are selling yourself short, because
you believe in God. You’ve certainly indicated that you don’t believe God is directly intervening in your life, and that you perceive God as a source of strength for you in trying times. I wish you could believe that all the strength and endurance, and yes, even the feelings of joy and gratitude are from you yourself
, from your internal fortitude, without any God whatsoever in the background. Again, I don’t think it’s actually doing you much real harm. I wish you had as much faith in yourself
and your own abilities to trust in you, but that’s not really harmful so much as it could be limiting. It always bothers me when people place unnecessary constraints on themselves - I
believe in you, more than you believe in yourself, and that is troubling to me. The world needs all of us working on real solutions to real problems, and belief in a god is all too often the excuse for not taking action.
I think it’s vitally important to take the long view. My goal is to help you see why.
For example, let’s consider climate change, again with a qualifier. I think the term itself has become so laden with political baggage that it gets in the way of incredibly important discussion required for meaningful action. Instead of climate change, let’s call it pollution, because that’s really what the root of the problem is. Regardless of if one accepts that climate change is real, it’s impossible
to say that pollution is not. I will provide proof if you require it.
So what this have to do with God beliefs? Here’s a real world example: Rep. John Shimkus is standing by a controversial comment that global warming isn't something to worry about because God said he wouldn't destroy the Earth after Noah's flood.
The Illinois Republican running for the powerful perch atop the House Energy and Commerce Committee told POLITICO on Wednesday that his understanding of the Bible reaffirms his belief that government shouldn't be in the business of trying to address rising greenhouse gas emissions. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1110/44958.html#ixzz2QvrqsW37
Just in case you don’t completely understand why
that freaks me right out, let me point out the amount of power we’re really talking about here. The House Energy and Commerce Committee does more than guide policy. In effect, they actually have the power to strongly influence, or even determine to a point, which potential issues will ever get far enough along in the political process to even be considered for policy action. Do you see the ramifications of that?
(Another link with other details: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1328366/John-Shimkus-Global-warming-wont-destroy-planet-God-promised-Noah.html
)The US is a global leader
, like it or not. We’re also among the worst offenders (China is kicking in quite a significant share as well). If we don’t step up and take the lead, it isn’t going to be addressed at all. And the whole world will suffer for it together
. There are places where people will simply not survive if action is not taken - real people, real deaths, and all potentially preventable if we just drop the "God will take care of us" crap and get our collective shit together for the good of all humankind.
Another example that you may relate to as an adult female is the Quiverfull movement, among many other patriarchal religious movements. They are a horror for women from beginning to end. I’m not going to give you a full-blown primer on that, just hit a few highlights.
[For much more from someone with first-hand experience, I strongly
encourage you to read Libby Ann’s blog at Patheos: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/#
. Under the heading near the top, she has a section for “Background” – please see the posts tagged Quiverfull here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/christian-patriarchyquiverfull
. Also see the posts here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/tag/created-to-be-his-help-meet
for her review of a book that is, in essence, the “Bible” of the Quiverfull movement, created entirely by one man (who quite frankly comes off as a childish, insecure, petty asshole in a book written by his wife and, get this, approved
by him before he allowed
her to publish). Be prepared to be shocked and disgusted, by the way; it’s incredibly offensive to anyone with a shred of humanity and decency. I believe you have both.]
That movement disturbs me on a lot of levels. But the worst in my eyes is that it forces women into very tightly prescribed roles, with no consideration whatsoever given to the idea of a woman as an autonomous human being with the right to self-discovery, self-expression, or even a decent education. Women born into this movement (and make no mistake, there are a LOT of them!) have almost no chance of even being permitted to think, at all. All decisions are deferred to the father, as the head of the family. It matters not one bit if he is making shit decisions that will cause him family harm, he is never to be disagreed with, no matter what. He can bankrupt the family, but woe betide the wife who speaks against it. I wish I was joking. Beating are an accepted matter for children and wives. Hell, that vile book in the review posts I link to even provides instruction
, per the biblical interpretations of the movement founder.
What would it do to a girl's perception of her own capabilities and her value as a human being to grow up like that? How could she ever break away from that kind of conditioning, foisted onto her at birth? Her entire existence is only for the purpose of producing babies and serving her husband, so her early life is spent in training for that eventual role. If she's an older siblings, she will be responsible (as a child herself, and a sibling as well) for the care, and often the discipline, of the younger children. She absolutely won't be permitted to have friends outside the movement, and she may not even have friends in it, depending on her specific family. She doesn't attend school outside the home, she is only permitted to read limited religious texts, and is essentially completely shielded from any independent interaction with people outside of her family's faith. With no opportunity to ever know that alternative exist, she's trapped in this situation in almost every way imaginable.
If every believer had the same view that you do, there would be much less for atheists to protest. But that’s not the case. The ones who follow oppressive interpretations also are the ones who are taking political actions, and trying hard to undermine the civil legal grounds put in place to stop exactly the kind of shit they are trying to force on the rest of us.
The worst of the harm you insist is not happening is impossible to separate from these God beliefs. Make no mistake about it – if they have their way, we will live under the equivalent of Sharia law here. I’ll fight to my last breath to stop that from happening, and any believer who doesn’t want it to happen should damn well be standing right alongside me doing the same damn thing.
I’m not JUST trying to protect myself and other non-believers from a being forced to follow laws based on religious belief, I’m also protecting people who do believe in God
, but not the version being pushed by fundamentalists. Too many of them are not paying attention to the realities being played out right under their noses, and are heading for quite a shock if they don’t start seeing what is happening.
THAT is where it becomes a bad thing – all too often, the moderate believers, the “respectful of others” believers, the “believe what you chose, it’s a personal decision” , THEY ARE NOT FUCKING GETTING OFF THEIR ASSES TO SPEAK UP AND TAKING ACTION IN OPPOSITION TO THE CRAZY FUCKERS!
I concede that you are not doing active
harm to anyone, other than potentially to yourself. But I also contend that you are possibly doing passive
harm by not taking action (if you are not), or by letting your beliefs set limits on your options, or by sitting passively and not noticing the damage being enacted into law by other who are believers. That is still harmful, if only by association.
I think you are a good person with a good heart. But I also think you are wrong that belief is not a bad thing. I see a lot of awful embedded in it. There’s much, much more than I’ve shown you in this post.