Thursday, June 30, 2011

Why Do I Bother?

I have written in this blog for years, making what I believe are cogent, logically-consistent, and rational arguments against religion, and especially fundamentalist religions. I've posted the same reasonable arguments on forums and on Facebook. And it always seems that no matter what I say or how well I seem to have made my point, I get replies from those who just don't seem to understand my point at all, or who just reject it out of hand with no valid rebuttal.

And I have been asked on many occasions why I bother. I'm obviously not changing any minds. Those who believe have been brainwashed and deluded and they deny the facts and evidence against them, or they twist it around to make it better fit their dogma. So what's the point? Why do I continue to harp on the fundamentalists?

There is more than one answer. For one thing, I do enjoy a good debate; it helps to strengthen my mental faculties. It's a way to exercise the mind. But that only happens when the ones I'm debating make valid rebuttals - points to actually ponder and then try to refute. That kind of response almost never happens. Blind faith and delusion are all I get in return.

The main reason I continue to post my blog entries and reply on the forums is that I know that there are those out there who are just taking in all the arguments. They don't comment and they don't reply to posts. They just read. I know this because several of them have put in friends requests on Facebook and I don't recognize their names from any forum. They've just been "listening." Sometimes they will comment in their friend request, so I know they have paid attention to my points and that those points have resonated in their minds. And that is why I continue to write and make my case against religion, particularly fundamentalist Christianity. Islam is probably the most dangerous religion on Earth today and many of its adherents are the most highly deluded. But I come from a Christian background and there are many more Christians in this country than Muslims. So I mainly stick to debunking the Christians.

And to those who are among the fence sitters when it comes to faith or to those Christians who have become disillusioned with your faith, take heart. There are lots of you out there. My advice, as always, is simply to listen to the rational part of your brain. It's not the devil; he doesn't exist. It's not your conscience. It's simply common sense knocking. Let it in.


Andrew Hall said...

Keep up the good work!

VetVoyeur said...

You're speaking my language Jerry, I admire you for speaking up!

Beth said...

I understand completely, and that's why I keep writing, too (although about things in addition to religion).

I've had people ask my opinions on things. I've had one person tell me that my writings on politics made them get more involved. Our influence might be subtle, but I believe it is there.

Keep on writing. I'll do the same.

+mf said...

Sometimes I think that engaging these people is more frustrating than productive. I enjoy your blogs and I'm disappointed to see the NOAH story disappear. I am glad I read it while it was up.

I took a philosophy class at a community college over a decade ago. The teacher told us that you simply cannot debate a religious person on religion, because an inherent function of religion is too reject any and all arguments contradictory to their dogma. When you're dealing with "magic," anything is possible, and that's how they sleep at night.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and I think that our uphill battle as atheists is the fact that we are championing the null set. People counter me all the time saying, "But why do you care since you don't believe in anything anyway?" Implying that, for example, including "under God" in the pledge shouldn't offend me since it does not counter any active belief that I hold.

I also believe that this is why we are less tolerated in America than other religions are... it's as if we're dealing with a "You don't have to believe what we believe, as long as you believe in something and aren't some godless atheist" mentality.

In light of that, I believe that for the common good and advancement of non-theological ideals, we should reposition ourselves not as ones who do not believe in God, but rather as those who DO believe in people, science, reason, and logic. I'm finding myself more and more attracted to calling myself a "Humanist" as opposed to an atheist. Not out of fear or shame stemming from the word atheist, but because I truly believe that in order to make inroads, we may have to soften the edges a little bit.


Jerry Wilson said...

Beth, if you look carefully, you can find a few posts on this blog that are also not about religion! ;)

+mf, I do know what you mean. Atheism has a lot of baggage associated with it, mostly undeserved, though Madeleine Ohare didn't help its image any. That is why on my Facebook profile I call myself a secular humanist. It says more about what I do believe than what I don't.

Jerry Wilson said...

Oh, and thanks for the comment on The Man and the Boat, the Noah story. I am reworking it a bit, adding a side story or two to make it less linear and doing some more character development. I may turn it into a children's book. What do you think?

+mf said...

I love the story, and I like the idea of secular books for children. I think the flood scene may be a bit graphic for children as it is written now.

This is actually another great example of what we were just talking about... a book written which attempts to dissuade one from a religion would be viewed negatively by many... a book that showed all the excellent reasons TO believe in a different philosophy would be much more graciously accepted, in my opinion.

On a side note, as a science teacher, how do you deal with parents who either (A) don't want their children learning evolution, or (B) insist that "ID" be taught as a alternate theory? I don't think I could deal with that!

Jerry Wilson said...

Mike, sometimes I get flack from the students themselves, but I generally don't have any problem with the parents. Here in Indiana, the state science standards are very evolution heavy. Maybe the fundamentalists don't like it, but so far they have accepted it. And maybe it has to do with the fact that I teach in an urban environment, but I haven't always, and I've never had many parental complaints.

Unknown said...

I also left the 'fold' and I am always criticized about being loud about it. But they don't notice their theism is louder.
I was a lurker myself in Richard Dawkins and John Loftus forums, and your are right! There are 'invisible' people lurking these forums and being helped.
If we can push more and more fence sitters to the side of reason, our sons will thank us ;-)