Why Is It So Hard to Reject Christianity?

A Blogger named "Stan, the Half-Truth Teller" commented on this topic here, which you can find below....

Depending on one's level of indoctrination, turning away from the religious mythos can be likened to espousing the initial concept of a spherical Earth. Every scrap of "evidence" available to humans at the time said the Earth was most decidedly flat, yet a new version of reality is introduced which claims otherwise.

There was never any true evidence of a flat Earth, but the anecdotal evidence was clear: The Earth is flat.

It's worse, though, for aside from being branded a heretic, describing the Earth as a sphere brought no other real punishment - certainly nothing as severe as disavowing Christianity.

Condemning oneself to an eternity in Hell is hardly a trivial undertaking...

For myself, I was raised in a Christian home, and as such was a staunch promoter of all things Christian up until High School, after which I had various encounters with the real world, including alcohol, marijuana, and sex.

Lucky for me, I am a genius, and I was able to quickly determine that what I had been taught was a lie. Even when closed, my mind was unimpaired. I decided that I would refuse to believe in anything half-heartedly - which is precisely what "faith" is, no matter how well sugar-coated:

No evidence, no adherent.

I recognized that what I had been taught was in practice no different that what any other child in any child-indoctrination scheme anywhere on the planet had been taught: Our way is true, all other ways are false. Our way will find reward, all other ways will find only punishment.

I saw that had I been raised in any of these plethora of alternative indoctrination schemes, I'd have been exactly as convinced of my dogma's righteousness, and the deserved damnation of all others'.

Such nonsense does not deserve my support, nor that of any other.

I was able to ignore a potential fate in Hell because I recognized that the odds of my indoctrination being correct were not good enough to place a bet of any kind, much less one consisting of my immortal soul.

Since then I have come to realize that no evidence could possibly convince me to unabashedly "worship" anything. I can reasonably conceive of a technology so advanced that it would seem magical, and I recognize that no matter how much "evidence" such a mystical being could contrive, I could imagine a yet-more-powerful being.

There are still today times when I wonder whether a religion can be correct (and if I've really relegated myself to an eternity in Hell), but I fend off such thoughts by reminding myself that if God is that much of an asshole, then I'd rather burn.

14 comments:

Cadin said...

"if God is that much of an asshole, then I'd rather burn"

Precisely.

Jim Jordan said...

Since then I have come to realize that no evidence could possibly convince me to unabashedly "worship" anything.

Compare to...

Lucky for me, I am a genius

- Stan the Half-Truth Teller

It appears he overlooked worshipping oneself.
Also, if God failed to punish the Hitlers and Timothy McVeighs of the world, THEN he would be an a-hole.

goprairie said...

oh, but god does not just punish hitler and mcveigh types. the good book says he punishes anyone for the mere mistake of not beleiving.
anyway, the question was, why is it so hard to reject chrisianity. do you have an answer for that?
a corollary to that question might be, if you aren't interested in rejecting christianity, what does it do for you that makes you want to adhere to it?
or if you have rejected it, what were your biggest hurdles in giving it up?
this is not about scholarship of the bible or philosophy but about personal benefit.
i'd like to see those questions discussed without any hijacking to other topics.

Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

Jim Jordan: It appears he overlooked worshipping oneself.
Also, if God failed to punish the Hitlers and Timothy McVeighs of the world, THEN he would be an a-hole.


I truly wish sarcasm was easier to see in an online post... Perhaps I'll in the future bookend sarcastic remarks by [sarcasm /].

[sarcasm] It just so happens that I am a genius - both Brain Age I and II cosistently score me as having a 20-year-old brain, despite the fact that I am 33.[/sarcasm]

In a sense, however, you're right. The only being in the universe about whose existence I am certain is my own. All others can be thought away as some sort of avatar or automaton. I could just as easily claim that without my existence, no others could exist - and be completely accurate from a logical standpoint.

At any rate, my point has hardly been refuted - I can reasonably conceive of a series of yet-more-powerful beings ad infinitum, and the known universe is a pretty large place (nevermind the seven other dimensions String Theory suggests), so there's plenty of room.

As to the "punishment" of various evildoers, God seems to paint with a pretty broad brush. From my understanding of Christianity, Hitler's fate is exactly that of Gandhi - despite a difference of over 2 million in the murder category...

So yes, that God is an asshole. It is not mocking to say so, as I consider myself an asshole as well, but at least I've never killed anyone - intentionally or otherwise - and I've never condemned anyone to an eternity of suffering, especially from a position of ultimate blame. It is merely an accurate description, even if somewhat crass.

--
Stan

Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

Sorry for continuing the off-topic trend...

Back to the topic, the selection or rejection of a particular religion, especially when the punishment for apostacy is so severe, should never be considered an easy thing.

When encountering differing philosophical standpoints, we find it easy to consider opponents as imbeciles for adhering to a clearly false position, and, of course, they view us in precisely the same manner. When the topic involves not mere philosophy but also religion, and when the stakes are indeed the possibility of eternal peril, then yes, we must acknowledge that there can and will - and should - be a major effort to protect one's beliefs.

One of the best weapons the religions have in their arsenals is the ability to indoctrinate children so completely. By allowing your children to participate in "Sunday School", or other religious indoctrination schemes, children are virtually incapable of escaping the deluge, and even the most intelligent among us will deny the truth, or at least the truth of strong arguments against.

Conversely, the greatest weapons available in the anti-religious arsenal are Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, et al. The existence of these characters is also instilled in us as children, but with these we eventually learn that they are merely nursery rhymes, or illusory figures created by adults for a sort of mutual amusement.

There is no difference between the two.

I take that back. The difference is of scale. Accepting that Santa Claus is a hoax only means that toys are now purchased, and that you no longer have to be especially "good" to receive them. For the Easter Bunny, it means a lesser likelihood of a candy basket (though typically no less candy). For Jesus, it means eternal punishment - a heavy penalty for a series of "crimes" committed over an 80-year lifespan...

I propose a parole system.

One can earn early release from Hell with good behavior - say after half of eternity...

--
Stan

Stargazer said...

I think one of the difficulties I'm encountering is that so much of the way of reacting and responding has become so automatic. First example, responding to someone's request that I keep them in my prayers: "Of course I will.." and be the time I am aware of what I have said, there is no graceful way of correcting the sentiment. Or responding with "Thank God!" when faced with a situation in which relief has been experienced.

Those are sort of 'automatic pilot' responses, and I'm beginning to see that change, though I am sure it will take some time. But it keeps the old belief system in front of you on a regular basis, and it can take some conscious effort to get past some of these deeply ingrained responses.

What I struggle with the most right now is the issues of sometimes wanting all the God stuff to be true when I want to get a sense of someone out there who can pull some strings for me. My husband has been working at a temporary position for some time now, and an opportunity has arisen that might mean permanent full time work in a part of the country that we absolutely love, and where we truly feel most at home in the world. There are times I find myself wondering if I MIGHT be wrong, maybe God is really there and could give us a hand with this. At the same time, the deepest part of my knows better; but these ways of seeing and thinking really are deeply rooted, and it can be very hard at times to get past the 'feeling' of it. That's when I have to remind myself--"It's the evidence, the evidence!! Pay attention to the evidence!!"

Jim Jordan said...

SHTT - God tells us the root of our instability, what, if not carefully considered, can turn us into a Hitler. Whether Ghandi is in Heaven or Hell I don't know. But I do know that I can't condemn anyone unless I want to be condemned myself (Matt 7:1-2). Kind of sounds like what the real God would tell us, doesn't it?

Stargazer - Santa Claus and the Easter bunny are cartoon characters. I never taught my child that they were real.

They are not in the same boat as Jesus (ca. 6 BC - 33 AD: 33 AD- ). I became a believer after looking with an open mind at nature and the universe then compared it to what I saw in Scripture. When you say, "look at the evidence", have you?

goprairie said...

"By allowing your children to participate in "Sunday School", or other religious indoctrination schemes, children are virtually incapable of escaping"
Thanks for that - I have been accused by my Fundy friend and by family members of neglect for not putting my kids through confirmation classes - I am 'depriving them of their culture', I am 'condemning them', I am 'neglecting their spiritual health' - while I just thought I was giving them options. One child remains 'agnostic', the other is a declared atheist and when he swore the past weekend by saying 'Jesus Christ' I reminded him he had to give that up, because before it was taking his own god's 'name in vain', but now it was mocking someone else's religion. He actually understood the concept and said he would work on it. Habits - culture - social pressure - interesting all of it.

Stargazer said...

Jim Jordan said:

Stargazer - Santa Claus and the Easter bunny are cartoon characters. I never taught my child that they were real.

They are not in the same boat as Jesus (ca. 6 BC - 33 AD: 33 AD- ). I became a believer after looking with an open mind at nature and the universe then compared it to what I saw in Scripture. When you say, "look at the evidence", have you?


Yes, Jim Jordan, I have. I've spent most of my teen and adult life examining and studying the evidence. I don't appreciate either your tone or your assumptions. I don't mind a civil discussion, but I don't appreciate sarcasm and presumption of superiority. This has been an intense struggle for me over the years and the attempt to have it reduced to the terms you introduce in your comments is unacceptable.

Interlocutor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim Jordan said...

stargazer
Sorry, you ended that post with "the evidence, the evidence, pay attention to the evidence!" which does beg the question, what evidence.

I was anticipating a response like "I looked at nature and Scripture with an open mind and I saw...."

That would be the start of a great conversation.

goprairie said...

this thread, jim, has been an attempt to provide supportive answers to a question regarding the personal value of religion and the personal difficulties of moving beyond it when one finds it to be false. it is not the place to debate the truth or falsehood of religion itself. that has been done and is being done on other threads.

Jim Jordan said...

Oh, so this is an "atheist support group". Ok, my bad. Could you at least point me to the restroom before I leave? Thanks. :-)

goprairie said...

there is a reason blogs have multiple posted entries and multiple sets of ongoing comments. find one on this site that discusses what you want to discuss and go there. i am pretty sure one exists. it is a little more work than hijacking another discussion, but blog ettiquette demands thus. grow up and stop sulking. on the other hand, leaving is an option i could live with too.