I was reading comments on a Youtube video yesterday, and I saw a mini-squabble between two people – one talking about about immorality espoused by the bible, and the other who didn’t care, because their primary concern was to follow Jesus Christ’s teachings.
There’s a real challenge for people who choose to debate against Christians, because Christianity has, built into it, a persecution complex; after all, Christians’ lord-and-savior was persecuted his whole life, and then killed by crucifixion. The bible also teaches that Christians are sure to be persecuted (Second Timothy 3:12), and this is reinforced in sermons and on Sunday School posters. And of course, no persecution paradigm is complete without leveraging the movie “God’s Not Dead”, which stews in this persecution complex by claiming that it is so institutionalized, college students are forced by asshole philosophy professors to renounce their faith, lest they want to fail the course. This is a dubious projection indeed, since the only examples we can actually cite of forced religious pledges are in Christian colleges. But I guess that asshole professor got what he deserved in the end, eh comrades? Pandering still works.
Is it any wonder with all this certainty about their own persecution, the largest religion in America constantly claims that we secular heathens are removing Christ from Christmas, and all the other nonsense that is so appealing to people who genuinely feel persecuted, despite all evidence is to the contrary?
I don’t know what the key argument is to force people to reexamine their own beliefs more skeptically, nor do I feel particularly inclined to proactively deconvert people (but if people try to re-convert me, I’ll damn sure push back). For me, it was a collection of things, including biblical inconsistency and immorality, dubious logical claims, a valid and reasonable concern that Jesus Christ didn’t even exist, the persecution complex coupled with all evidence to the contrary, and the undeniable correlation I observed between level of religious indoctrination and overall worldview incorrectness.
I stumbled upon Deism one day, and it was appealing to me. My skepticism led me to conclude that Christianity was ridiculous, but the God idea was less so. I didn’t feel that I needed a formalized collection of rules as described in the bible. Evolution, social conventions, the human brain, and hormones seemed like a good enough explanation for why humans can manage to not murder each other en masse, or at least why we would have been able to abstain from murder frequently enough to reproduce and maintain a diverse population. In other words, to quote Christopher Hitchens, “Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it”. So, I considered myself a Deist for several years.
I think it’s hard to simultaneously argue against theism and the underlying deism. The two are logically separate; not mutually exclusive, but logically speaking, God can exist without one particular religion being correct. So, to me, it gets messy to try to make one claim that there is not enough evidence for God AND that there is not enough evidence that Jesus Christ was God’s son; in fact, there are logical pitfalls in trying to hold these two positions in the same argument.
I think that decoupling deism and theism is a pathway to deconversion. The God concept, without all of Christianity’s baggage, makes for a clearer investigation. Similarly, Christianity isolated from the technical argument for God allows for a more honest assessment of what Christianity is truly advocating, without reducing it to cherry-picked warm and fuzzies.Follow @TimSteppingOut